Monday, December 28, 2009

Organic Ribbon Blanket Tutorial

I just made this little baby ribbon blanket. I'm going to attempt my first simple tutorial for it - partly so I can remember exactly what I did so I can make lots more of these ;) It's a great little gift to give for newborns, not only because babies enjoy these little ribbon blankets, but it's also incredibly fast to make (this one took me half an hour including taking photos) and very economical (this one cost about $5 in ribbon and $2 in fabric.




FABRIC REQUIREMENTS:
* 2 13" square pieces of soft fabric - I used this organic sherpa fabric from Wazoodle. The sherpa is very thick and a bit stretchy, so it's somewhat difficult to work with. It's amazingly soft (and thick), though, so I think it'll be perfect for these. Another option is thick flannel. You can get inexpensive 8oz flannel at Organic Cotton Plus. If you only have one yard of fabric, you could cut 12" square so you can get three squares along the yard-length side.
* 20 4.5" pieces of ribbon - I used this 7/8" wide organic ribbon from Near Sea Naturals. You could also get undyed from here and dye yourself with Kool-Aid or plant dyes. Just be sure to wash a few times in hot afterward to be sure the dye is completely set!
* Thread - I used this organic thread from Near Sea Naturals. It's a pleasure to work with!


DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut fabric and ribbon.


2. Attach ribbon with pins to the RIGHT side of the fabric - I attached the middle ribbon on each side 2" apart with the middle one at the 6.5" mark - so they were placed with middles at 2.5", 4.5", 6.5", 8.5" and 10.5".




3. Baste with 3/8" seam allowance (I needed 3/8" because it's thick fabric - with thinner fabric you could do 1/4" baste). If you're a perfectionist, it's worth spending a little extra time here so your ribbons end up straight - a few minutes here makes the finished product look a lot more professional. If you don't care too much, you can skip this step.




4. Pin right sides together. I put in two black head pins 3" apart in the middle of one side to remind me to leave an opening to be able to turn the blanket right side out. I like the gap to be in the middle of a side rather than at a corner to make the final pinning and topstitching a little easier.




5. Make sure all ribbons are INSIDE and sew together with a 1/2" seam allowance leaving a 3" opening to turn blanket right side out.


6. Trim corners and turn blanket right side out. I was able to pull out the corners with my fingers, but depending on what fabric you use, you might need a tool such as a chopstick or knitting needle to push the corners out.


7. Iron and fold in the 3" opening and pin closed.




8. Topstitch. I did this with a 3/8" allowance because my walking foot edge is at 3/8", so I get the straightest results at 3/8" :) Also, the sherpa is very thick and difficult to stitch much closer to the edge. You can use any amount up to about 3/8" - you just want to be sure you stitch close enough to actually sew up the folded/pinned area.




ENJOY! If anyone makes this from my tutorial, please let me know! It's my first tutorial, so if there's anything that's not clear, let me know!

Math and Mangold

Yoav just said, "Four fives is twenty, right?" And yesterday he counted down from 100 as our take-off into space in our car (a new game we're playing to get into the car - we pretend we're astronauts and get into our space ship and we could down and Jer makes fun space ship noises when we blast off). It's cool that Yoav seems to be somewhat advanced in math, but at the same time, since we're doing Enki, I wonder if it might bee too "in the head". Steiner talked a lot about how the first seven years should be all about the imagination. Generally I answer questions with "I wonder" or something sweet and fun. Like a Waldorf-y answer to "Why does the sun go down?" would be something like, "Father Sun goes to sleep at night to rest just like you do!" That answer fits better into the child's world of imagination than an actual physical answer, which takes them OUT of the imaginary world in which they generally reside. So I have to think about what to do with the math, since I can't really say "I wonder" to a math question since he knows I know the answer...

We just made Mangold chips based on this recipe for spinach chips. They were amazing. We've made kale chips, chard chips and spinach chips in the past and these seem to be the best, or at least the most popular in my family. I used up the whole bunch of mangold. Yoav was hoarding them and even said he likes them better than tortilla chips ;) It's a perfect leaf for this because it's less bitter than kale but thicker than spinach (which seems to be a better property for chips). I don't know how mangold ranks healthwise - seems to be similar to chard... I don't know if mangold is sold in the US - it seems to be pretty readily available here - I've had it mixed with scrambled eggs in a restaurant and saw them at the grocery store last time I went.

Ribbon Blanket




I made a Ribbon Blanket today. I tried to match the style of this one. I really like how it came out - this will definitely be a standard baby gift from now on for me! I used organic sherpa fabric from Wazoodle with organic ribbons and organic thread from Near Sea Naturals. I figure if it's something a baby is going to chew on, it should be 100% organic! I love the feel of the sherpa, but it was hard to work with even with a walking foot. I think it would be impossible with a standard presser foot. I did 1/4" seam and then did again at 3/8" to reinforce, but next time I'm going to do 1/2" seam the first time so it'll be easier to get straight. I cut the sherpa 14" square to begin with, which seems fine and the ribbon I cut 4" based on this tutorial, but she did 1/4" seam allowance and with the sherpa, you really need more (or at least I do). So next time I'll cut the ribbon 4.5" long. I'm going to make one more tonight with my modifications and post pics of both when I'm done.

BTW, the organic thread is amazing. I LOVE using it. I don't think I'll go back to regular cotton. I'll have to order a bunch more so I have a supply since Near Sea Naturals is the only company that I can find selling it :)

And a random funny story - this morning we were getting dressed and Elie got his undies on with both legs in one hole and then stood up and said "Yalla", which means "Let's go" in Hebrew, meaning he was all dressed and ready to go downstairs ;) He does the same thing sometimes with shoes to go outside. When we get dressed for the playground (he's usually naked again an hour into the day as he likes to pee completely naked), he often just puts his shoes on and says "Yalla", since really you only need shoes to go outside, right? :)

Oh and I dehydrated some sprouted wheat berries last night in the oven and they came out beautifully - I set the oven to "keep warm" and left the door about half open. I'm still glad I ordered the dehyrator as it's more energy efficient and is guaranteed success - I don't really want to play around much with the almonds, as raw organic almonds are so ridiculously expensive. And my "Wild Fermentation" book came in the mail today. How exciting! My first book from The Book Depository - Free International Shipping!! Phew! Not like Alibris, but I can use Book Depository for books I want soon and Alibris to Jer's office for ones I'm willing to wait for.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bought a Dehydrator

I broke down and just bought a dehydrator. After far too much time agonizing, I got this one - it's the Nesco FD-80 American Harvest Square-Shaped Dehydrator. Someone posted on the Nourishing Traditions group that she puts parchment paper down so the grains don't fall through the holes, so I'll do the same - so knowing I can do that, I don't mind (as much) that it's plastic. At least the plastic won't leach into the food... I broke down after trying it in the oven last night - some grains were perfect but some looked a little burnt. With the dehydrator, it'll come out perfect every time. Plus I read here that the oven method has "inferior baking qualities."

And for grain grinders, I ended up getting the Jupiter Family Grain attachment to the Kitchen Aid - I got the grain grinder and oat flaker from The Urban Homemaker here.

Hopefully everything will arrive in time and will fit in Jer's suitcase. Then I'll never have to buy ground grains again :)

For those who don't want to go through the effort but want the benefit of sprouted grain, you can actually buy sprouted whole wheat flour here. And there's a list of sprouted grain recipes at the bottom of the page.

No sewing tonight - wasted the evening choosing a dehydrator :)

Recipe for Homemade Labneh

Just found this and thought I'd post to share (and so I don't misplace the link). Labneh is very popular here in Israel and is well loved by Jeremy, so once I make yogurt, I'll move on to this - I'm still deciding which cultures to buy, probably from Cultures for Health - they seem to be very highly recommended.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Solved the Dehydrator Problem

I'm happy to say that I solved my oven/dehydrator problem. If I put the oven on the lowest setting (keep warm, which the technician we spoke to said means between 130 and 175F) and keep the door propped open with a stainless steel spatula so it's only just barely cracked open, the temperature is exactly 150F!!!! Yea! So I don't need a dehydrator AND I have lots of space to dehydrate AND it's all stainless steel (vs the less than $300 dehydrators, which are all plastic)! I dehydrated some almonds last night and now I'm doing my sprouted wheat berries. Such kitchen fun I'm having!

First NT-style Meal for Guests

Yesterday we had friends over for dinner and I made a fully Nourishing Traditions meal - EXCEPT my very white refined-sugar challah (which is from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today", which is as tasty as it is unhealthy LOL).

The menu included:
* Carrot and Ginger Soup (comes from my MIL except that I use chicken stock instead of water)
RECIPE
Ingredients: 1/2 medium butternut squash, 2 T olive oil, 1 diced onion, 1 lb carrots - peeled & diced, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger - peeled and thinly sliced, 4 cups homemade chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, pinch of ground cinnamon
Directions: (1) Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop seeds out of squash and place cut side down on greased baking sheet. Bake about an hour until soft. Allow to cool, then scoop out the flesh and set aside. (2) Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the stock , squash, carrots and ginger. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for about an hour or until carrots are tender. (3) Puree with a hand blender. Add boiling water or stock as desired to thin, but keep in mind it's supposed to be a thick creamy soup. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon.
* Lentil Salad (from Nourishing Traditions - I thought it was really good - I did exactly per the recipe except I didn't use dijon in the sauce. And I used black pepper instead of green because I thought I had green but don't...)
* Hummus (I used the recipe from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today" but I cooked the chickpeas according to Nourishing Traditions)
* Israeli Salad (I used the recipe in Janna Gur's "The Book of New Israeli Foods" (which is almost the same as the NT "Tomato and Cucumber Salad" but also includes red pepper), but I Nourishing Tradition-ized it by adding raw wine vinegar and expeller-pressed flax oil to the dressing plus some sprouted wheat berries)
* White Flour Challah - totally not NT - from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today"
* The coup d'etat is my roast chicken! I make whole basmati rice with the Nourishing Traditions recipe (using chicken stock); Then I boil carrots, roast sweet potato and slowly sautee onions until translucent. I add the carrots, sweet potato, onions and about six cloves of coarsely diced garlic to the rice. Then I put the rice in the roasting pan with the chicken with a little water to cover the rice so it doesn't dry out and stuff some inside the chicken and I roast using the Roast Chicken Recipe from Nourishing Traditions. It comes out absolutely amazing.
* Dessert: Carob Chews (recipe from Nourishing Traditions, but I didn't use nuts); Sweet Potato Cookies (recipe in Nourishing Traditions)

I think that's it. It seemed like plenty of food and we also have lots of leftovers for dinner tonight.

I'm trying to figure out how to make a Nourishing Tradition - style challah...

For those interested in learning more about the benefits of soaking grains (and for a 100% whole wheat bread recipe), check here.

I'm going to try this recipe this week. Not as healthy as a sourdough challah, but it looks a lot easier. It only has a small amount of grains added at the end that are not soaked.

Then, in parallel, I'm going to start making the sourdough challah from the book "A Blessing of Bread" by Maggie Blezer, which is a 100% whole wheat sourdough challah - looks perfect!! This book was a gift from my sister-in-law and has stunning photos (including photos of many different ways to braid challah) and lots of detailed information about baking bread (and making sourdough).

In other news, I'm planning to make a few taggy blankets - three friends had babies in the past two weeks and two more are coming - this idea seems to be the best value in that it's the least expensive thing I can make that I think would be enjoyed and appreciated. I hate to give gifts that I wouldn't want myself - ie non-organic fabric, but I also don't want to spend $30 on fabric plus labor if I don't even know if the item will be appreciated (like a blanket which many people have a zillion of, bibs which I never used, burp cloths which many people have a zillion of, etc.). I bought organic dyed ribbon from Near Sea Naturals and I am going to use organic sherpa fabric from Wazoodle.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Elie - My Great Eater

I love having a great eater in the house!!! Elie devoured my Wheat Berry Casserole today - the recipe is basically sprouted wheat berries cooked in homemade chicken stock with a little salt, thyme, rosemary and pepper. He LOVED it (as did I, honestly - it's quite a good recipe!). It's so much fun to cook for a child who eats what you make!! If only I cook keep his clothes on him, I'd feel like I was doing right by him. Oh, well. A mom has to fail somewhere - otherwise she'd actually be able to sleep at night - and that would just make life too easy ;)

We actually ended up taking the week off of food and Enki since Jer isn't working much due to Christmas. So we've been going out some and the kids have eaten croissants, pitot and non-organic meat - GASP!!!!!!! HORRORS!!!!!!!!!! :) We're going to breakfast tomorrow at an organic restaurant and I have a serious Nourishing Traditions feast planned for tomorrow evening, so hopefully that will make up for it.

Oh, and a very funny Yoav comment: He found a little plastic Christmas elf today at the playground (a piece of junk - not a lost loved toy, don't worry) and he decided to keep it and said it would be the gnome's rabbi b/c he has a beard :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yoav Learning from Elie

Just a quick post so I remember this... Today Elie was standing on the swing at the playground and managed to get himself to swing back and forth on his own by pushing his feet back and tummy forward to go backward and then pushing his feet forward and tush back to go forward. Yoav noticed that he was swinging and asked me if he did it himself. I said yes and Yoav said he wanted to try and watched Elie and tried to do the same. When he said he wanted to do it, there was not a hint of jealousy - just that he thought it looked like fun and he wanted to learn how to do it.

Yoav has become much more independent over the past six months, in large part due to Elie. Yoav notices Elie doing things that Yoav had never considered doing himself - like getting dressed/undressed, getting into his carseat, carrying his own bag of sandtoys to the playground, and lots more. It's never been an issue of Yoav wanting to do them *because* Elie does them - he just notices Elie doing them and thus realizes that he can do it too and tries it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Enki Winter Movement + Weekly Schedule

Our schedule for the week is:
Story: "The Crow and the Sparrow", Bangladesh tale
Baking: Pecan cookies (NT, p. 528) - need to start soaking the nuts tonight to dry tomorrow
Craft: Felted Soap Scrub

Winter Movement Block:
Opening: Come Follow
Midline Crossing: Gnomes (R/L, HM)
Base Sense Vestibular - Winds of December (V, HM) - actually called "Winds of October" and is an Autumn verse, but we have Winds of Decmber here in Israel
Base Sense Proprioceptive - Loud Winds (FB, HM, P)
Closing: Owl

Meal Plan for the Week

Below is a meal plan I've spent at least ten hours working on. Seriously. I'll still have to make some modifications, but most recipes have been taste-tested. I tried to be reasonable - I first started this post in Draft form two weeks ago and have been testing and tweaking since then, so I think this is pretty do-able. In a few cases, I'll serve something separate for Yoav, which is listed - it's either due to allergies (fish, not soaking in dairy) or taste... I also listed out the "To Do"s for each day, which is what I need to start doing in prep for future days - I didn't schedule everything - bread, crackers, nuts and grains I'll try to just do in advance as I can get to it - some I can make in bulk and store long-term.

There isn't a huge amount of variation day-to-day but for the week, I feel good about it. Generally, only the afternoon snack and dinner will vary by day. The afternoon snack will be the one that I will use to get the kids the Steiner Grain of the Day. I haven't tried all of the recipes listed for those snacks, so I'll be experimenting there for the next week or two (well, forever since tastes change, but hopefully I can get it somewhat consistent within a few weeks). Almost everything will be homemade - the only processed foods are the Sunday night pizza, the tortilla chips that Yoav uses to eat avocado and the yogurt and butter. Hopefully Yoav will like some of the crackers I make and those might work to replace the tortilla chips. And Jer just came home with a candy thermometer today, so I'm ready to start making (or at least attempting to make) the yogurt and butter at home too ;)

I'm trying to hit most of the goals on this "Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers" - partly because I'm nursing and partly to get me ready for another pregnancy (Baruch Hashem). Though I have meat, chicken or fish listed for each dinner, I'll try to prepare those to mostly serve as sides, which is how Michael Pollen suggests to eat meat/chicken/fish in his "In Defense of Food". I'm excited to have this done - now I can print it out and keep it in the kitchen to keep myself on schedule ;)

Recipes are from either "Nourishing Traditions" (NT) or Little Acorn Learning (LA).

Sunday (Sun): Wheat -
B: Wheat Pancakes (NT, p. 478) soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Avocado with sprouted wheat crackers (NT, p. 518)
D: Pizza night out after horse-back riding
S3: Wheat Berry Casserole for me and Elie (NT p. 463); Oatmeal for Yoav (NT, p. 455)
To Do: Evening - Start soaking rice for tomorrow's S2 and D, Start soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B

Monday (Moon): Rice -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Coconut Brown Rice with Raisins and Cinnamon (LA)
D: Spaghetti with ground beef (NT, p. 357) with rice noodles and vegetable; browned beef with rice noodles for Yoav
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Evening - Start soaking soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B, start soaking barley groats for tomorrow's D

Tuesday (Mars): Barley -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter and jam
S2: This will vary - it will be our "Baking Day" project each week
D: Oxtail Barley Soup (NT, p. 209)
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Morning - Start making stock (one week will be meat, next week chicken); Evening - Start soaking soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B, start soaking millet for tomorrow's S2 and D, start soaking rice for tomorrow's D

Wednesday (Mercury): Millet -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Millet Casserole with chicken stock (NT p. 460) for Elie; will try new millet recipes for Yoav until I find one he likes...
D: Chicken with Walnuts (NT, p. 288) on weeks I make chicken stock with Brown Basmati Rice cooked with chicken stock, vegetable dish; Alternating weeks will be Shnitzels - ie Breaded Chicken Breasts (NT, p. 284), Brown Basmati Rice cooked with chicken stock, vegetable dish
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Evening - Start soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B, start soaking rye flour for tomorrow's S2, start soaking rice for tomorrow's D

Thursday (Jupiter): Rye -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Rye Porridge (NT, p. 455) / can rotate with Rye Crackers with avocado (NT, p. 518)
D: Baked Salmon (NT, p. 260), Liver and Rice (NT, p. 467), vegetable dish; liver coated with flour and sauteed in coconut oil for Yoav
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Morning - start soaking chickpeas for tomorrow's D; Evening - start soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B, start soaking rice for tomorrow's D, start soaking kidney beans for Saturday's D

Friday (Venus): Oats -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Fried mush with maple syrup (NT, p. 457)
D: Roast chicken (NT, p. 280) with sweet potatoes, brown basmati rice, carrot/ginger soup (MIL's recipe and will use chicken stock), hummus, challah
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Morning - start boiling chickpeas for today's D, start boiling kidney beans for tomorrow's D; Evening - Start soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B

Saturday (Saturn): Corn -
B: Oatmeal (NT, p. 455) - soaked in water and lemon juice for Yoav; soaked in yogurt for everyone else
S1: Fresh fruit
L: Fried Eggs for Yoav (NT, p. 437), Scrambled eggs for everyone else, Tomato and Cucumber salad (NT, p. 183) mixed with some sprouts and fermented food, and Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter
S2: Avocado with corn chips
D: Minestrone Soup (NT, p. 210)
S3: Natural Yeast Bread (NT, p. 492) with butter for Elie; almond butter for Yoav or Sourdough Bread (NT, p. 490)
To Do: Evening - Start soaking oatmeal for tomorrow's B, start soaking whole wheat flour for pancakes


Other random snacks the kids like, which can fill in if I don't have the ingredients or time/energy for any given snack: Date Yummies (LA), Carob Chews (NT, p 527), Carob Chips (NT, p. 517), Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast (NT, p. 521), and fruit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homeschooling or Bust!!!

How many times have I (and every other homeschooler I know) been asked the dreaded questions:
"But what about socialization?"
"How will he be prepared to join the workforce?"

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/13/home-schooling-socialization-not-problem/
Gotcha!

Food, Food, Food - I'm Officially Obsessed

I thought I should make it official - I'm obsessed with all-things Nourishing Traditions ;)

I found this list of Weston Price - recommended books recently and just spent an hour reading all the reviews and ordering up books on Alibris for Jer to bring back for me. As my birthday present from my mom, I ordered:
From www.alibris.com:
"Milk of Human Kindness...is Not Pasteurized" by William Campbell Douglass
"Healing Our Children: Because Your New Baby Matters! Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (Ages 0-6)" by Ramiel Nagel
"A Whole Foods Primer: a Comprehensive, Instructive, and Enlightening Guide to the World of Whole Foods" by Beatrice Hunter
"The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy Products" by Ron Schmid
"The Truth About Children's Health: the Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Reversing Disease" by Robert Bernardini
From www.bookdepository.co.uk (Free International Shipping!!!)
"Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz
From Amazon:
"Nutrition and Physical Degeneration:, by Weston A. Price - figured I should have the book that started it all
"Simple Sourdough: Make Your Own Starter Without Store-Bought Yeast and Bake the Best Bread in the World With This Simplest of Recipes for Making Sourdough (or Sour Dough)", by Mark Shepard

I also ordered a candy thermometer so I can try making yogurt since we can't seem to find one here.

And, my wish list is:
WonderMill Grain Mill
Oat Flaker
Dehydrator - this one looks amazing since the shelves are stainless steel instead of plastic. I'll probably keep using my oven until/if I decide to spring for this one - I've been turning the oven on for a few mins at 200F (the minimum) and opening the door until it gets to 150F and then putting the item to be dehydrated. I learned to take OUT the food that's being dehydrated while I have the oven on, since I'm liable to get distracted and leave it on for more than the planned five minutes :) It's working okay for now - a bit of a pain and can only be done during the day, but good enough I think.

Lest you think I'm no longer obsessed with sewing, I also ordered the Kwik Sew for Children book (I recently got the one for Babies and also for Toddlers used and they look great). It's a serious problem to be obsessive. How can I be obsessive about food and sewing and parenting all at the same time? Seriously, I lay awake at night trying to think about the order in which to spend my sadly limited time. I think longingly about the wasted hours and days and years of my 20s. I could have been quilting, cooking, gardening... But my evenings were, for the most part, wasted. Too bad you can't go back. I wish I could have learned all this stuff that interests me now before I had kids so I wouldn't have to do it until 1am every night ;)

Oatmeal, MIllet, Stories and Math

We made a huge step forward for breakfast from this oatmeal recipe! I've been soaking Yoav's oatmeal in water and lemon juice (since he is allergic to dairy), but he just doesn't like it as much as unsoaked. He eats it, but eats slowly and rarely asks for more and uses more maple syrup than he would without the lemon flavor. The key that I was missing was to RINSE the oatmeal in the morning!! So that way, the lemon juice neutralizes the phytic acid, but he doesn't the lemon-flavored oatmeal!! YEA!! Seriously, this is a big step for us. I've been making too many pancakes for breakfast. I much prefer the simplicity of oatmeal...

Today was our "millet day" and I made millet for the first time for the kids. Elie liked it but Yoav wouldn't go further than licking it. And, though Elie liked it, millet is ridiculously messy, which I learned the hard way. When a bowl of millet spills on the floor, it is quite a pain to clean. I won't give up on it yet, though - I'll just have to search around for more recipes. There's a recipe for Millet Cakes in "The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book" that I'll try next week.

We made the bean bags today out of the muslin he painted on a recent Painting Day. He did very little of it actually. He was too busy dreaming up and cutting felt for his own craft. He did a few stitiches and put the beans in and when they were all done, he said they'd be perfect for pillows for his gnomes. D'oh - so much for my plan to sneak them in as a great Sensory Integration toy!

Yoav told me stories again at night today. He told me two stories - again I picked the animals - I picked goat and spider. The goat story was two goats who were running around and knocked into eachother accidentally. The father came and gave them kisses and used a "goat tool" to make them all better. The spider story was three spider kids named Bill, Nill and Dill who lived in a tiny tiny house in the woods. Bill and Dill noticed Nill was missing and cried for him, "Nill, where are you? Where are you?" Nill came downstairs (guess not such a tiny house LOL) and said he was just going pee. Bill and Dill were happy to see him again. :) Yoav said he prefers telling me stories b/c then he gets to think of names for the animals.

Oh and one last thing before I get all my grains, nuts and legumes soaking for tomorrow. Yoav did 10 + 10 today. He asked me what two tens are and I just kind of shrugged an "I wonder" kind of shrug and he counted aloud for a minute or so and said, "20!" Cool. Also he was counting by tens the other day, but I was thinking about it today and it's possible he was just doing it b/c he was noticing that they all have the same ending sound. He started with 30 and said, "30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yoav's Storytelling

I think I've mentioned that our new bedtime routine (I think it's at least a month, so not *so* new) is that we turn off the light and then I tell two animal stories, which Yoav calls "Problems" because they each involve an animal having a problem that somehow gets resolved. Last night he asked me if I wanted him to tell me stories too. He was so excited about it. Last night I was half-asleep when he told them and I just couldn't keep track of what was going ;) Tonight I was more awake (he fell asleep at 9:10, which is pretty early for him). So the basic stories were:
1. Horse (I picked the two animals, just like he does): Two horses lived in a stable; One was 9 years old and one 7 years old. They loved to play together. One day they were playing with a camera*. First the 7yo was playing with it and then the 9yo took it from him and it dropped and broke. They decided to buy a new one and went to the camera store. A deer was there too buying a camera and the horses bought the same one as the deer.
* This is a great example of using play/story-telling to resolve issues. Today Yoav took the camera out when Jer took the boys on their nature walk. Jer told me just now when I relayed the story that Elie had been using the camera and Yoav grabbed it from Elie. Also earlier, Jeremy had dropped the camera when it was in the case but the case wasn't closed properly. So I don't know what Jer said to Yoav, but maybe there was mention that the camera could break if it got tugged. Note that Jer is NOT doing the Three-Day-Challengs LOL.
2. Chicken - There were three chickens who lived in a chicken cage. Some animal came and I don't remember which type of animal he said - the other animal kicked the chickens and the chickens kicked back, then that animal kicked the chickens again and then the chickens ran into their cage and locked the door.
* Seemed to me like a decent resolution - that the chickens sought safety instead of continuing to fight...

Cooking update - We made the Walnut Chicken from Nourishing Traditions today using the reserved chicken from our stock and it was GREAT. It's just the reserved chicken mixed with a sauce which is made of walnuts that you process to a paste, Rapadura, pomegranate syrup and stock. You simmer the sauce until it thickens and add the chicken for a few minutes. Super fast to make and very tasty! I think I had considered making it a long time ago but couldn't find the pomegranate syrup. It's a Middle Eastern food, so maybe that's why it's more readily available here. Or maybe I just didn't look that hard in the States. Not sure but it was yummy if you can find the pomegranate syrup ;) The banana bread was good but was a little mushy on the bottom and Yoav didn't even like the top half that was fully cooked, although I did. I'm trying to find a good soaked or sprouted non-yeast bread recipe that Yoav likes other than sourdough which I'll do if I can't find anything else, but it's kind of a pain.

Also the almond butter didn't work. When you dry out the nuts, it doesn't turn into a paste/butter with just the almonds. I've done the Nourishing Traditions recipe before and Yoav doesn't like it. This time I just added enough coconut oil to turn it to a paste, but I know Yoav won't like it b/c it's not smooth. I'm going to ask around...

Oh, one more thing - both boys were in the sewing room poking around with the sewing machine when I started singing our night transition song tonight. Elie immediately stopped what he was doing and came to follow me, but Yoav was engrossed trying to figure out what the feet are for and how to change them and didn't make a move. Elie pulled on Yoav's arm and said "bo" (come) and tried to pull him out of the room. Eventually the tugging and the singing got Yoav out of his zone and he followed us. It was great to get help from Elie on getting into bed! :)

Chanukah - Day 5



I made Yoav this little jester out of the "Feltcraft" by Petra Berger book last night. He picked it out.

We made Ginger Carrots this morning. It's my foray into fermented food. It's very simple - 4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed, 1 T freshly grated ginger and 2 T sea salt (you can also use whey, but I want them to be parve so I can serve hopefully for our Friday night dinner). You hammer with a meat hammer to release the juices and put in all in a mason jar, press down so the juices cover the carrots and store at room temp for about three days and then you can move to cold storage. This is my foray into lacto-fermented vegetables. Lacto-fermentation enhances digestibility and increases vitamin levels.

Also, I'm taking the "Three Day Challenge" - basically to talk less to my kids! I already try to keep talk to a minimum since I learned this starting when Yoav did a Mommy/Me Waldorf class when he was almost 3, but I can do a lot better. The goal is to use no directives and to "bring consciousness" to words that *are* used. It's a lot easier now than before I started Enki since we have a strong rhythm and use transition songs - even Elie, who takes off his clothes the second he gets inside, will lower his head for me to put his shirt on the moment I start singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad", which is our getting dressed song. And, at the playground, I just sing "Hi Ho Jim Along Josie" and both kids usually hop off whatever they're on to follow me home. Transition songs are truly genius! Anyway, so I'll see how we do over the next three days.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chanukah - Day 4



I made this canvas bag for Elie for today's Chanukah gift. He's been bringing his sand toys to the playground in a regular canvas bag that's too big for him, so it's awkward for him if he holds it above the ground and if he holds it comfortably, it drags on floor. He already got a whole in one of our ChicoBags. The fabric is organic 6oz cotton canvas from organiccottonplus.com. The pattern is from "Linen, Wool, Cotton" by Akiko Mano. It was a recommendation from Soulemama. I love looking at all the photos in the book, but the pattern really wasn't so great. I still don't quite understand all the markings on the pattern, so mine isn't cut exactly the way it is supposed to be.

I've been busy with Nourishing Traditions. I'd love to see a kitchen of someone who really does it completely. I could probably find someone blogging about it I guess if I poke around. Right now I have a bunch of things soaking/cooking - spelt soaking in lemon juice for pancakes for Yoav; spelt soaking in yogurt for pancakes for me and Elie; spelt soaking in water and lemon juice for banana bread (I'm making it parve so we can eat it with our chicken dinner tomorrow), oats soaking in water and lemon juice for nighttime snack tomorrow; almonds soaking in water and salt to make into almond butter; and chicken stock simmering overnight.

Unrelated to Nourishing Traditions, I made potato latkes from Janna Gur's "The Book of New Israeli Food" today. They came out great. The second time, that is. The first time I missed the direction to squeeze water out of the grated potato and onion mixture, so the inside of the latkes were kind of wet. So, since I'm a perfectionist, I grated up a few more potatoes and tried again, this time squeezing through a muslin produce bag to get it very dry, so I guess then the breadcrumbs and eggs stick much better and the end result was very tasty! Even Yoav relented and ate one after seeing Jeremy and I drooling over them AND he liked them!!!

Now I have to make something for Yoav for tomorrow - he picked something out of Feltcraft.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Knit Pants from Grandma



Grandma made Elie these gorgeous longies! She actually made them last year but they were way too big then. Still they'll last for probably another two years, but they're great to grow into because they have a tie waist and the bottoms roll up and stay up. It's the EC Store Knit Pants - I think I had gotten the pattern from the EC Store Yahoo group but I can't find it online. Another good free longies pattern is the Tiny Bird Organics one here. The yarn is the same as what I'm using for Yoav's socks - Purewool, dyed by the woman who ran the coop I got them through, but these are blue, purple, white and green. I love them! Thanks Grandma!!!





Here's another cute pic of Yoav and Elie at the playground to share :) Yoav is wearing one of his new long-sleeved shirts that I put a patch on - this one is my favorite - it has a fussy cut patch from the Hello My Friends Cosmo line - in the middle of the patch it says, "Hello my friends! Have a good day.". It's a good reminder for me when I look at the shirt ;) They're also wearing their new moccasins from Safta - both boys love them!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Handmade Hanukkah



I started a precedent last year of having a Handmade Hanukkah (actually, Mama Made...) Luckily this year I told Yoav he'd get a present every other day and Elie every other day. So far I've made a seal and swan from Petra Berger's "Feltcraft". For the most part I've been able to make them during the day with a blanket over my sewing so Yoav can't see, since he says he only wants surprises for Hanukkah and thus I can't give him the socks I'm knitting...

This is my Enki schedule for the week:
Core Story: Coyote's Rain Song
Baking: Banana Bread (NT, p. 483 - need to start soaking on Monday afternoon); Also Chanukkah latkes from Janna Gur's "The Book of New Israeli Food"
Craft: Beanbags (we cut and painted the muslin a different week but never managed to sew and stuff them)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yoav's Memory / Finger Knitting / Sugar Blues

Yoav's memory continues to astound me. I'm still thinking it's just that he thinks differently from me that makes it seem so amazing. I know kids have better memories than adults and I know when I was younger, using my memory to memorize useless facts and dates, it served me pretty well. But now, as a 35yo mom who's always slightly on the sleep-deprived side, a great memory is hard to relate to :) Today when Yoav and Jer got back from horsebackriding (they switched days b/c Jer was traveling on Sunday), Yoav started blah-blah-blahing about what song they got up to (on the Enki CD that he loves dearly). He was yapping away and then I started listening and realized he was listing each song they heard on the way home in reverse order. He started by saying they got to "Raggle Taggle" and then continued on with, "and before that it was... and before that was.... " etc up to the first one. When he got to the first one, I had only just realized what was going on and said, "Did you just list all the songs in reverse order?" He didn't know reverse order and asked what I meant so I said, "Did you list all the songs from the last one to the first one?" (I just asked in a curious voice, not like a "wow, you're so great, good job" sort of way). He said, "No, just from Raggle Taggle." I said, "What number is Raggle Taggle?" He thought for a second or two and said, "27". I looked it up when we finished at the table and he was right. I think he knows what number every single song is (there are 34) and can list them forward and backward and, of course, knows just about every word of every song... Remembering a playlist in order is fathomable to me, but backward - my brain just doesn't work that way. I tried to think of the song before a few songs and I came up blank. I couldn't even do two backward and he can do all of them. Pretty cool.

We did finger knitting today and he got it. His fingers seem pretty small for it - he had to keep pushing the loops down, but he had fun with it and laughed and laughed each time he got to the part where you pluck the loops off your fingers. His was also much tighter knit than mine, both because of his small fingers and also b/c he was just pulling the yarn tight. He was noticing the difference but didn't figure out how to get his looser. It's a very fun activity - I can see why kids love it so much - I enjoyed it also! We did a cute little Enki poem to remember what to do. It's based on a story that we read yesterday about a tadpole that turns into a frog.

Finally, I just read "Sugar Blues" by William Duffy and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who eats (or lets their kids eat) ANY refined sugar (not only straight cane sugar, juice or any processed food with cane sugar, but also white flour and white rice).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Knit Socks



So I'm very happy with what I just took off my needles - a beautifully hand-dyed wool sock for Yoav. I got the yarn 2+ years ago through a coop and had it dyed by the woman who ran the coop. At the time, I was spending far too much time oogling over hand-dyed yarn and I picked the color scheme and she matched it so well! It's Purewool yarn and the pattern is Yankee Knitter Designs Classic Socks, Pattern #29. It's slightly big, but I guess that's fine since that way they'll definitely fit comfortably through the winter and hopefully even next year. So now one to go. I'm loving knitting with this yarn. And Yoav is excited for the socks to be finished so he keeps playing alone (or with Elie) and telling me to knit ;)

Today at the playground, Elie took off his sweatshirt and handed it to Yoav, in the same way kids thoughtlessly hand everything to their moms to carry, regardless of how much the mom is already carrying :) Anyway, Yoav didn't question his role and played the adult for a moment and took the sweatshirt and put it up in a safe spot. It was quite sweet.

Last night I sewed patches on a few long-sleeved shirts for Yoav so now we have the winter version of the short-sleeved shirts I made before. Maybe I'll take pics, or maybe you'll just see them in pics of Yoav. I made four and I'm sure they're all Yoav will be wearing for the next few months...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Planning for Coaching Session with Scott Noelle

I'm planning to do a coaching session with Scott Noelle as part of my membership in his PATH program (which I HIGHLY recommend - besides the great online forum, you get about 30 mins included coaching time per month). I'm going to try to do it either Tues or Wed of this week and want to get my thoughts together first (and to write them down so I can refer to them during the session, since I tend to get scatter-brained otherwise!)

This will sound weird to anyone who doesn't know Noelle's work with Attraction Parenting, so feel free to skip this post if you're going to think I'm a quack :)

So my issue is that I'm really just struggling with aligning with my Authentic Self during times when Yoav and I seem to be in what feels to me like a complete conflict. This is mostly happening as pertains to his wanting to be first. I have it figured out in some cases that happen over and over. For instance, he always wants to be first to sit at the kitchen table. So now he says "Bearcat" (a word he made up) over and over as he's running toward the table to give me a chance to slip Elie off his seat so Yoav can sit first. So now it really doesn't bother me and Yoav doesn't scream when he sees Elie at the table first, he just starts in with "Bearcat" and usually laughs as he says it... I'm hoping the calm that the "Bearcat" solution has brought will eventually lead to him dropping this desire to be first, but, with Unconditionality, my goal is really to "allow well-being into existence, regardless of external conditions". So I'm not hinging my Well-Being on his stopping wanting to be first to the table - I've aligned with my Authentic Self in these cases with the "Bearcat" solution.

So I like this solution when he warns me of his desire and it's an easy one that I just slip Elie off his chair. But I haven't been able to find a way to align with my Authentic Self when Yoav is screaming at me to do something that I just DO NOT WANT TO DO! Like the other day we were getting ready to go out to the playground and Elie was completely dressed and Yoav started screaming for me to take of Elie's socks and shoes b/c he wanted to be first with socks and shoes. He's said before he wants to be first with shoes and he's usually ok with me just partially slipping mine off while he puts his on, which doesn't bother me, but I just didn't want to take Elie's socks and shoes off so Yoav could be first with this. I'm conflicted b/c I don't want him to *control* me. And he tries to do this some. I don't want him to feel like he can control people. I want him to feel in control of himself and to know that others are in control of themselves. Aldort explains it much better - I like her ideas on not letting our kids control us. So I just don't know what to do in these cases. Once recently when it happened it was when I had already put my shoes on and he screamed for me to take them off so he could be first and I just said I didn't want to go out anymore and I put on my slippers instead. I really just didn't want to go through this control thing and felt that I'd rather just stay inside. That actually "worked" fine that time - Yoav almost relaxed with that response and we just stayed inside and played. No anger or frustration on my part, just an unwillingness to play his control game.

Another similar one is when Yoav creates impossible rules for Elie - like the other day he put a huge box in the middle of the living room and said to Elie, "Elie, you can't EVER move this!" Yoav said Elie could go in the box but couldn't move it. And then Yoav yelled at Elie if Elie moved it...

One other idea that I may or may not get to with this session is how to say "no". I've so very rarely said no to him and try to always say YES! But it doesn't *always* feel authentic to me to do so and sometimes even when I try, it's not yes enough.. For instance, the other day I was knitting with four DPNs and there was one more in the pack of five. Yoav asked to have the other one. Have meaning to put it in his room with his sewing stuff... I said I wanted to keep them together because it's a set and for some projects I need all five. This REALLY hurt his feelings and he started to cry. It happens occasionally that I say no like this in a way when I'm trying to sort of make it a yes, but in my heart it's a no and Yoav feels that. I don't want him to be hurt by the words of others, including me, so I want to figure out how to say these no's better, or maybe to connect with myself better to find a better Yes... I tend to have a particularly difficult time feeling Abundance when it comes to my sewing stuff ;)

This post makes Yoav sound like a royal PITA but really he's not :) These are just the big issues we have and they only happen here and there. Truly for the most part we're totally connected and have peaceful days ;)

Jer's Home!

Jer came back this morning! It's, of course, great to see him and have him back, AND it's great to have all the goodies he brought back with him that I ordered:

* Organic flannel for blankets from organiccottonplus.com;
* Ribbon and batting for a taggy blanket I'm making from nearseanaturals (plus I got a free yard of organic woven fabric from them for ordering in November with my Facebook coupon code!);
* A few books I got on alibris - "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollock and "Sugar Blues" by William Duffy;
* Padraig slippers for the kids, which they both love!!! Yoav picked out the rainbow design;
* Ruskovilla organic wool longjohns for Yoav (Elie has Yoav's hand-me-downs);
* An Of the Earth organic skirt for me that I got used on the Greentaramama Yahoo group (also where I got the Padraig slippers and Rusko woolies - a highly recommended Yahoo group for all organic-minded Mamas out there!);
* And Jer got me two beautiful sewing books for my birthday - "The Sewing Bible" by Ruth Singer and "The Knitter's Book of Wool" by Clara Parkes - I told him a few years ago to never get me jewelry - I'm QUITE happy with this gift! Couldn't have picked out better books myself!!! The Sewing Bible looks amazing - lots to learn in there! And the wool book has cool info about wool, like what sheep each type comes from and also has some beautiful patterns.

Yoav was so sweet today - I was rubbing my eyes and he said, "Don't do that. My eyes always feel worse if I rub them." It was so great to hear something like this from him. It felt like it was coming from an adult. Such an advanced understanding it felt to me, and he said it with empathy. He even suggested I use our homeopathic eye drops and reminded me where they were ;)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Enki Weekly Schedule

Our scheduled items for the week are:

Story: Fishing Friends
Baking: Baked Oatmeal
Craft: Finger Knitting (Yoav did 175 stitches with Finger Crochet, so I feel confident that he's ready to move on - this after he did six chains each of about 100 stitches the week before)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Elie's Birthday

I've written so little in the blog lately - I have so very little time to write. Yoav is like a magnet to the computer - everytime he sees me on the computer, he jumps on after to poke around, so I've taken to leaving the laptop in the sewing room during the day. But with Jer traveling, I've been falling asleep with the kids when I put them to sleep, so that leave 0 computer time and thus no blogging :)



Anyway, today was Elie's birthday and it was great. I made another Waldorf doll for him and had it in the bed when he woke up. We sang the birthday song that became a tradition when Yoav turned 4 - it's a Magic Cabin song we learned from a friend. Yoav likes the song so by the end of the song we were both singing to Elie and it was so very sweet. It was just as I had imagined/hoped in my head when I was planning the day. The rest of the day was the usual - lots of time at the playground, play at home, etc. Elie enjoyed all his birthday phone calls from Grandma and Grandpa, his uncles. The time difference makes it hard for everyone to catch us - he didn't get to talk to his nieces but we know they tried and I told Elie they called during his nap and he was glad for that ;)

It's a great thing to give a handmade doll to your child - so sweet to see them lovingly holding one and kissing it. BUT, it's also a bummer to see the doll thrown down the stairs :) The kids particularly like this one with the long hair, which is fun to style, even for boys - Yoav put it in a ponytail. BUT, it's also fun to hold the doll by the long hair and throw it ;) Both boys might be needing replacement dolls come their next birthdays. But that's ok with me. Elie's was a lot easier than Yoav's since I already had some practice and the next one I'm sure will be even easier.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Naomi Aldort Article on Sibling fighting

I'm posting this because I love it and don't want to lose it. It's written by Naomi Aldort, author of "Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves", my favorite parenting book, the one that has most helped me to be the parent I want to be...


Today's question:

My children are loving to each other some of the time but it
is the fighting and physical hurting that I can't allow or
manage. How can I sit back and let them hurt each other
even if it is exactly what they are suppose to be doing.

If it isn't physical it is very hurtful words that aren't used in
our family! Name calling, etc. The children are both toddlers.

The fighting is over who got to the seat first, fighting over
what color the cup is that they got. (The one the other has
is always the one they wanted!!!!) who got the bigger piece,
who took the toy first, one sibling knocking down another's
project or toy, etc., etc.!!!

This can be very difficult to deal with and I have a difficult
time believing that it is ok to allow!

Thanks!

Naomi`s Response:

You say, "How can I sit back and let them hurt each other
even if it is exactly what they are supposed to be doing?"

Did you think that if they are supposed to fight, you are
supposed to sit back? We all do exactly what we are
supposed to do. They are supposed to fight and I hear
that you are supposed to help them. By all means do
your job. You are the parent.

Honoring a child's path does not mean being passive. When
we are at peace, our responses are more productive because
they don't come from stress and war against the child, but
from true understanding and deep connection.

You say "I can't allow or manage (the fighting)," and have
you noticed that no one responds to "allowing?" They fight
because that's what young children do when left to be with
each other. Lets see how you can come to your toddlers'
relationships from a peaceful place; not from a place of
telling them how to be, but from knowing how they CAN be
and providing conditions that make it possible for them to
succeed.

If you think that they shouldn't fight, and they do, you react
rather than create. Reaction is a blind obedience to thoughts.
If I think it shouldn't rain when it does, I don't take an umbrella
and I get wet. If I think that siblings shouldn't fight and they do,
I panic and am unable to help them because I too am fighting;
I am at war with the reality of the way they are. In fact,
deluding myself that they won't fight, I may miss on ways
to provide conditions for peace.

For example, if I believe they shouldn't fight, I let them play
by themselves for longer than they can.

Your children are both toddlers. Considering what they
observe in the areas of material goods and personal value,
it seems natural that they should not be able to be together
without fighting over things and over position (being first,
more, better). Telling them not to fight is confusing to them.
They cannot be other than how they are. Your attempt at
teaching can lead to a sense of failure and helplessness and
therefore more fighting: "I am being me the best I can and
mom says to be different. I am not OK. I am confused... etc."

In addition, if you take sides or try to moralize and judge,
you join the war rather than teach peace. Your children
derive an illusion of power from getting you into the picture;
"If mom is on my side, I am loved and safe." You then
show up as "ammunition." This is the reason some children
fight more when mom is around.

Toddlers don't have the verbal capacity to resolve conflicts
(children and adults are not masterful either) and are naturally
inclined to express their feelings physically. Yes, they are
supposed to do this, and knowing this, we are supposed to
create conditions that don't put them to test. We don't put an
infant on the floor and expect her to walk over to us.
Expecting what is not possible create conflict. When I know
that the baby cannot walk, I cary her.

Ask yourself how you would have arranged your life with
your toddlers, if you were clear about their limitations?
Realizing that they cannot be together without fighting
some of the time, (and I hear that you prefer that they
don't fight) you may wish to reduce the amount of time
they are playing together without adult participation.

You may not have the resources to prevent extended play
time without an adult. If this is the case, than reality is
that they will play and they will fight sometimes, and they
need your love and understanding - not your lesson. Children
are our mirror. You fight against their fight and they learn to
fight. No matter how kindly you explain, what a child hears
is: "I am not all right. Mom is not happy with me. One has
to struggle, fight, fix and go against the other, and one must
judge and measure fairness." These are the painful lessons
we have all learned. Start your peace movement by loving
their choices and changing the conditions so they can be more
peaceful and less challenged.

When the children do fight, I suggest that you make peace
with their nature, so you can show up as love and not as
judgment. Don't take sides and don't give lessons. Instead,
validate and stay neutral. Pretend it is the rain. A child gets
wet; you dry him. You don't give a lessons to the clouds.
Instead of trying to fix what is already in the past (even the
physical pain is over by the time a child screams) be present
to the now with love. When peaceful, you show up as
unconditional love. There is no better way to teach peace.

Keep in mind that some of children fights are harmless and
they do come to an end as children find their own solutions.
Other times they count on parental guidance and on not
being put in situations they cannot handle peacefully.

Here are some ways to make the conditions more peaceful
and respectful of children's abilities:

1) Avoid toys that cannot be shared. Get blocks, balls and
art supplies. Things that come in great quantities with no limit
of shapes and colors leave less reason for conflict. Collect
yogurt containers, sticks, fabrics etc. These are the better
toys anyway.

2) Take the children to play outdoors as much as possible
without gadgets and toys. Nature is a the best playground
with the fewest possessions to fight over.

3) Be present as much as possible. The dishes can wait,
love cannot. Have a messy house and tidy human souls.
Yet, take care of you too and get help if you need.

4) Look for a mother helper/baby sitter. A preteen or
teenager can be a great playmate, so the children are not
left by themselves too often and the cost is low.

5) Spend time together with the children and your spouse,
as much as possible, so there is at least one adult per child.

6) Model sharing that your children can see. Share with them
and with others generously. Make your giving visible. Instead
of teaching, be the one who follows your own guidance. You
may discover that this is not so easy. Good. Such awareness
will help you understand your children's difficulty.

7) Avoid teaching competition for position. Don't take sides,
don't compare, don't talk about yourself and others in terms
of better or worse, right and wrong. Teach peace and
equality by who you are being. Again, notice that this is
easier said than done and love that. We are here to be
humans.

8) MInimize gossip. Gossip is bad talk about another and
teaches to seek approval and to fear not getting it. "What
will she say about me behind my back?"

9) Finally: Realize that it is not possible to prevent toddlers
form fighting when left to play together. They will not become
bullies because of fighting as children. They don't know
another way in the moment. Telling them not to be the way
they are hurts them more than the put downs that go
between them. When you scold, they can only see
themselves as failing.

Toddlers are often not really hurting each other either.
They may cry because they sense your reaction. Children look for your
guidance to know how they are supposed to feel. They will be more
powerful and emotionally resilient if you project confidence in their
ability to be with pain.

By the time they cry there is no pain at all. It is over. They
are crying over a story about being hurt (victim). That story
is learned. If your toddler cries, don't make a fuss. With no
drama and no blame she will recover and move on. She
will learn, "I can handle this." If the child needs emotional
connection, provide a hug with a benign attitude.

Validate, don't make justice:

Often parents want to make justice and teach justice. That's
not our job. If the child falls and scrapes her knee, you don't
scold gravity. Treat all events like the rain and gravity. No right,
no wrong. Respond to the fact. If someone needs affection,
give it. If more blocks are needed, bring the second box.

When a child hits, pushes, bites or grabs and you want to stop
the fighting, you can. But do so without drama and morals and
do it honestly and with care. You can scoop the aggressor
(who is in more pain or he wouldn't be out of control) and hug
him. Validate feelings without dramatizing, "I see that you want
the red cup..." or even, "I see that you love to make your sister
scream. I understand." When we take the role of the judge we
set the children against each other. When our action speaks
love, they will know love.

Sometimes you can scoop the child who has been pushed
and just care for her and remove her from the situation.
Obviously, they cannot be together at this time.

As for put downs and demeaning words, read my full article
on this subject in the coming up November issue of Life
Learning magazine. I will also respond to this question in a
future issue. Meanwhile, don't teach your children that words
can hurt them and they will not get hurt, nor try to hurt others,
because the words will have no impact either way. Needing to
demean shows self-doubt. Help your children feel worthy so
they don't need to put anyone down, and, turn bad words into
laughter as I will explain further another time.

With love,

Naomi Aldort
©Copyright Naomi Aldort

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weekly Enki Schedule

Forgot to post my Enki schedule for the week:

Story: Mischief Mouse (Yoav loves it - it's a nature story about a little mouse who stays outside too late into the Fall when his siblings are already sleeping for winter and he ends up being out when it starts snowing and can't find his way home but finds a jack o'lantern with a candle in it and goes in there to stay warm and falls asleep only to wake again in the Spring when he hears the sounds of his brothers and sisters squeaking outside.)
Baking: Carob Chews from "Nourishing Traditions" (made them today and they're tasty - Yoav really likes them - unfortunately too sticky to use as an out-of-the-house snack, which is really all I'd use a sweet snack for - these have carob, honey, salt and vanilla)
Craft: Beanbags

Food-wise, we're doing well on NT. We've eaten almost exclusively soaked or sprouted grains in the past two weeks. I have spelt soaking for pancakes for tomorrow and a sourdough bread out to rise that I'll bake tomorrow. I'm hoping I can just keep my starter going so I can bake a fresh bread every few days.

I have four more days until Elie's birthday and I'm making him a Waldorf doll too. So I probably won't post again until after his birthday - I have a few late nights ahead of me :(

Also, one random thing I don't want to forget - Yoav has added two numbers between number 8. He started this because the neighbor, who's 8, did something that upset him - not sure what, but I think it was just that she didn't respond to him when he yelled out the window for him, so very minor, considering that he just randomly calls out her name sometimes... Anyway, so he started saying "late" instead of eight - "late" only b/c it rhymes, no other meaning. Then he forgave her, added back the 8, left "late" and a few days ago, added "Bunny Jumps His Cane" after 8. Yes, you read that right. I have NO IDEA how he came up with that one. SO, now the problem is that, even though he can count to 100 and back down again, he's started doing math manipulations with these extra two numbers. Today he said that two fives is Bunny-Jumps-His-Cane. Which is correct, according to his new world view of numbers, but I'm a little concerned that he's going to start remembering equations with these extra numbers so later it might be harder to remember the real way. I'll just monitor I guess to see how long it goes on.