Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Cards

I just wanted to share a photo of Yoav making his card. He picked out the fabric and sewed the edge rectangles on:

8/31/2010

Rosh Hashanah Craft - Quilted Cards

This year, I'm going to try to design Waldorf-style crafts for each Jewish holiday and post tutorials/instructions here. I'm a bit late already, but I think once the year gets going, I'll be able to stay on schedule. With the move and getting unpacked, I didn't have much time for planning.

For our Rosh Hashanah craft, I managed to turn quilting into Rosh Hashanah prep :)

I'm making quilted fabric cards using a log cabin block as the pattern. The basic pattern is shown here, with a center square with an apple and four rectangles around the center:
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Here's a finished card:
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Much of this can be done by a very young child and all by a slightly older child. Yoav (almost 6yo) did most of one himself - he chose the fabrics, I cut everything and then marked with vanishing fabric marker where he should sew and he sewed the rectangles on. A child of his age could also sew the felt apple on and could write or embroider the letters and sew the block to an index card using running stitch.

OK, on to the tutorial...

The first step is to collect fabric. You need:
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Center fabric: Cut 2.5" x 4.5"
Bottom rectangle (labeled '1' on the pattern): Cut 1.25" x 4.5"
Left rectangle (labeled '2' on the pattern): Cut 3.25" x 1.25"
Top rectangle (labeled '3' on the pattern): Cut 1.25" x 5.25"
Right rectangle (labeled '4' on the pattern): Cut 4" x 1.25"
Small square of red felt for center apple (or you could do a pomegranate or other Rosh Hashanah theme)

Make a template of of apple (or other Rosh Hashana theme). I used this apple pattern. Use the template to cut felt to size. Attach to center square with mattress stitch. Add green straight stitch for the apple tip.

Alternatively, you could use fabric and applique onto the center fabric by using zigzag stitch of small width and medium length along the edges. The tip can also be made with a tight zigzag with the width slowly increasing.

In the photo, the appliqued apple is at the top, felt apple below. I like the felt one much better and it was also easier and something I could do as my daily handwork while the kids were playing:
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Next you can begin sewing the outer pieces. The log cabin layout is really fun to do and beautiful in it's perfection and simplicity - I love how all the pieces go together so perfectly. First sew the bottom rectangle (labeled as '1') to the bottom of the center piece - sew right sides together and you don't have to secure the beginning and end, since you'll sew other pieces over both ends.
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Next sew the remaining rectangles to the center square. Again, right sides together and you don't have to secure ends. Left rectangle ('2') is next, sewn to the left edge of the center square; then top rectangle ('3') to the top of the center square and finally sew the right rectangle ('4') to the right side of the center square.

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Write 'Shana Tova' in red permanent marker (I used fine). You could also embroider this. I put my design card under the fabric to help me position the letters.

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Next, square up the block (trim edges to make straight). Then add a 4"x6" unlined index card behind the fabric and use zigzag stitch (or any stitch you like) to attach to the card. I recommend a walking foot for this if you have one - it's a bit hard to position and keep steady with a regular foot. You could also baste with a bit of glue or pin well first.
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Finally, trim ends to straighten sides and glue a second index card to the back to hide the stitches. Also, this way, the back can be peeled off next year and the card can be reused. Or the card can be set on a shelf as a Rosh Hashanah decoration.

Here's a few of my finished cards:
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This same design can be used for birthday cards. You can also add ribbon and more embroidery to the central square to make it fancier for a birthday, anniversary, wedding or any other card! This is a great platform for a useful craft for a child's embroidery.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Knit Hat for ME!


Just finished this hat for me. I love how it came out. I made one for a friend's daughter using the exact pattern recently (it's from Louisa Harding's "Hats, Gloves, Scarves" book). I modified the pattern for DPN needles and added an inch to the length, so it covers my ears and doesn't have a seam, so I like it much better for me than the original pattern. The yarn is Purewool 100% merino wool.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kindy Planning

This is what I have planned so far for this year. I have one month planned fully with stories and crafts but I want to have three months forward planned at all times so I make sure I have any needed craft materials and just to take some pressure off... I did weekly planning last year (planned my story and craft each Sunday) and didn't like it - each week I kind of dreaded the planning and it will save time doing several months at once since it takes so long just to get situated with the right books and resources...

I have a few blanks, but I have two more weeks until we're starting (I'm planning to start the first full week of Sep, which is Sep 5). I think posting this now will get me motivated to finish in time...

WEEKLY SCHEDULE:
Sunday: Family Adventure Day
Monday: Baking Day (sourdough bread)
Tuesday: Painting Day
Wednesday: Craft Day
Thursday: Cleaning Day
Friday: Shabbat Prep Day
Saturday: Family Day (Shabbat)

FOOD PLAN (very basic format):
Breakfast: Sourdough bread with honey
AM Snack: Fruit and (hopefully, if I can find a new source) raw goat's yogurt
Lunch: Eggs
PM Snack: Fruit and veggies
Dinner: Will vary per schedule below + oatmeal (used to be final snack of day, but I've found that it's easier for me just to include it with dinner)

DINNER SCHEDULE (format per "Simplicity Parenting" and I think also "Heaven on Earth"):
Sunday: Spaghetti
Monday: Liver
Tuesday: Legumes
Wednesday: Soup
Thursday: Fish
Friday: Chicken (Shabbat Dinner)
Saturday: Leftovers

TRANSITION SONGS:
Circle: Come Follow (Enki)
Getting Dressed: I've Been Working on the Railroad
Outside play / Nature Walk: I Love to go A-wandering (Enki)
Breadmaking: Sleeping Seeds (Enki)
Painting: A Lovely Rainbow ("This is the Way We Wash-a-Day" by Mary Thienes-Schunemann)
Crafting: Wond'rous Hands (Enki)
Cleaning Up: Flitter, Flutter and Fly (posted by Jodie Mesler of homemusicmaking.com)
Washing Hands: Wash hands, Wash hands, Wash hands now (from Waldorf Mommy/Me class) // Dry hands, Dry hands, Dry hands now
Bath: My Big Blue Boat ("This is the Way We Wash-a-Day" by Mary Thienes-Schunemann)
Potty: Better Out Than In ("This is the Way We Wash-a-Day" by Mary Thienes-Schunemann)
Tooth Brushing: Pigeon House
Bed: Gone to Bed (Enki)

DAILY SCHEDULE:
Wake Up
Snuggle
Nature Walk in forest
Breakfast (as picnic or inside)
Circle / Finger Plays / Yoga
Snack
Story Time / Puppet Show
Creative Play (and Mama craft time)
Lunch
Nap for Elie / Quiet Time for Yoav
Activity for Yoav during end of Elie's nap (painting/cooking/crafting will happen here - I think it's particularly important for watercolor painting to be calm/meditative)
Snack
Creative Play (in and/or out, weather-dependent)
Settling In - Book
Dinner
Bath and Brush Teeth
Lights out and Stories
Sleep

CIRCLE (for first month - starting very easy and fun to draw kids in and to ensure that Elie can participate):
Come Follow
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
Foxes Move So Softly
Insy Weensy Spider
Two Little Dicky Birds
Open Them, Close Them
Five Little Mice
Hebrew: Yadaim Lamala (Hands up)

STORIES/CRAFTS:
Sep 5 (Rosh Hashanah): Craft - Rosh Hashana Fabric Cards; Story - "Shofar in the High Seas"
Sep 12 - Story - "The Swarm" (Earthschooling - a bee/honey story which is good for Rosh Hashanah, when we eat apples and honey to have a sweet new year); Craft - Nature Bag (Earthschooling)
Sep 19 (Yom Kippur & Sukkot): Craft - Sukkos Decoration (maybe this); Story - "Alef is Chosen" from "Lights Along the Path"
Sep 26: *TBD*
Oct 3: Craft - Felt Torah Scroll (for Simchat Torah); Story - "The Frangipani Maiden" - p. 142 of "Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior" by Susan Perrow (story is about generosity)
Oct 10 (Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah): *TBD*
Oct 17: Craft - *TBD*; Story - Three Billy Goats Gruff
Oct 24: *TBD*
Oct 31 (Yoav's Bday): Craft - *TBD*; Story - will write a Birthday story

Friday, August 20, 2010

30% off at Coolibar

I know I'm WAY behind on my posting - I still have to plug in our backup drive that we use for photos so I can upload some new photos of the house and write a bit about how we're doing...

Meanwhile, 30% OFF at Coolibar (code is AUG30, I think through the end of August)!!! I love all their sungear - it seems to last well and be of very high quality. I have swimsuits for both boys (the neck-to-knee ones) and just ordered them size 4 and 8 so they are set for their next size up. Their hats are great too - especially the ones with the flaps on the neck for extra neck protection.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Simplicity Parenting

I just finished "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne and I HIGHLY recommend it. It was the best parenting book I've read in a while, despite the fact that it seems like it's so, well, for lack of a better word, simple ;) If you want to get a glimpse, check out a recent podcast on Blogtalk Radio here. I had heard him do a talk, though, with Donna Ashton through the Waldorf Connection, and I wasn't planning to read the book, but got it for Jer and read it myself first - so even though the idea is basic, there's actually a lot more in the book than in the talks. I have a few friends I've mentioned the book to who weren't jumping to go out and buy it, so I'll give a little summary here to whet the appetite more ;)

Chapter 1 - Why Simplify?
* The best thing (for me) in this section is his comparisons of the buildup of minor stresses on today's children to the anxiety and PTSD he saw in children of war-torn countries. He explains that a quirk plus stress equals disorder. He gives a few examples, like a child who has lots of collections, gets upset if you clean anything up in his room even though the room seems like a mess to an outside observer, he knows where everything is, etc. Such a child, with stress, can slide into OCD. He likewise explains how stress can lead to ADD, ADHD, etc.
* He describes his "protocol" for reducing the symptoms of these (described in detail in Chap 3 - 6) and said he did studies that found that the protocol resulted in children with an increase in attentive and decrease in hypermotoric behavior and found that the kids in the study experienced a 37 percent increase in academic and cognitive abiities.

Chapter 2 - Soul Fever
* This chapter talks about watching for "Soul Fevers", which is when the emotional state of the child is out of alignment, when he's seeming off/anxious/imbalanced. He compares the treatment to a standard physical ailment - cutting back on activities, staying home, cuddling with a good book and hot tea on the couch, etc.

Chapter 3 - Environment
* I love this chapter - I'm always wanting to reduce clutter and love his clear explanations and guides for how to do so!
* Toys - he says to reduce toys by half and then by half again LOL. I'm hoping we're not the ones he's referring to, because I'd be getting rid of some really lovely toys if I were to do that. I did get rid of (some given away and some boxed) about a third of our toys, although thankfully only a few fell into his categories of what to get rid of (he has a list of ten types of toys to get rid of). The category most interesting to me was "Toy Multiples". He gives an example that your child is interested in elephants and gets a stuffed elephant he loves. So you go out and get a little family of baby elephants and other friends for the elephant. He has a great quote about why NOT to do this: "By overwhelming a true connection with too many superfluous ones, we can send a message that relationships are disposable."
* Books - he says that books are often the second major form of excess. He suggests that before the age of eight or nine, kids should have a dozen or fewer books on a bookshelf, with ONE or TWO easily accessible. He suggests rotating these and says at seven or eight, you can add some reference books about things the child is interested in. He explains why to simplify books - he gives an example of a child racing through "Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series" - he says, "when a desire for the next thing is at the heart of an experience, we're involved in an addiction, not a connection." He talks about the value of repetition to allow room for imagination and inspiration. I was lucky to be reading this as we were moving, so we now have about ten books on the shelf with four out on display for easy access and reading - two for Yoav and two for Elie.
* Clothes - I've learned this one myself from Yoav! He explains the benefit of simplifying clothes to simplify transitions around clothes - says all clothes in the bureau should fit now and be something you're both happy with. He suggests simple clothes of course and says "your child has better things to do than be a walking advertisement" which I whole-heartedly agree with. I've been getting plain 100% cotton t-shirts for my kids and I sew fabric patches on so they're cute and a little different, but not different enough to cause any stress with getting dressed. Yoav loves animals, so all the patches have animals, which means that I can choose the shirt and he's happy with any of them. He also has four pairs of 100% cotton brown pants from American Apparel that he wears almost every day and all white simple undies from Under the Nile and Hannah Anderson. I remember times before we had simplified clothes when he'd complain about my choice or want something in the wash (like we were gifted some colored undies and he'd want the red ones when they were in the wash). It's NOT a good way to start the day! So I'm in full agreement on this one!
* Lighting and Sound - Simplify smells; minimize noise bouncing around or echoing off windows by using area rugs and drape cloths on the ceiling - he says up to about age eight, noise bouncing around can bother children. Recommends the occasional use of candles - he lights a candle for dinner and says if you're nervous about candles to consider lighting one for bath when there's lots of water available to put it out if need be.

Chapter 4 - Rhythm
* I've read so much about rhythm in the last two years - most of this is nothing new, but summarized succinctly and clearly.
* One thing I like, which I also heard Sharifa Oppenheimer suggest on a talk she did with Donna Ashton is to have each day of the week be a different type of food, but the type is consistent week to week - so, for example, Monday is pasta night; Tuesday is meat night; Wednesday soup night - gives flexibility within the type of food, but also gives a consistency so the kids know to expect soup on Wednesday and also makes meal planning easier.
* He talks at length about the need for family dinner - getting kids to help in the food prep and setting the table leads to better eaters and makes the transition to eating easier and sitting together in a relaxed connected setting obviously leads to stronger connection.
* Suggests limiting food complexity - compares food to toys - the highly processed foods to battery-operated toys. He explains how foods like Doritos are "big-hit flavor" foods and "set up an addictive cycle" as kids get accustomed to stronger flavors and grow to expect such pysiological reactions. He says that food additives, sugar and caffeine are the "hyperactivity-inducing foods" and says "Such foods are the enemies of rhythm. You can't flow through speed-crash-and-burn."
* He explains how two or three "pressure valves" built into the day can help a child fall asleep more easily. I don't know quite how to summarize a pressure valve, but examples are naps, quiet time, rituals (like after-school ritual or moment of silence before meal), work such as digging, building with blocks, climbing a tree, catching lizards, ongoing projects - I guess it's either a nap or quiet time or an activity that the child can really lose himself in - the very deep healthy kind of play.

Chapter 5 - Schedules
* As expected, he says to simplify schedules, but he also explains how to do so.
* Boredom - calls boredom a gift - says that "boredom is often the precursor to creativity". Suggests that if a child tells you they're bored you can say, "Really? Something to do is right around the corner." Make it clear that you're *not* going to rescue the child from the boredom and that you're not going to entertain them AND that you are NOT interesting ;) He says to be more boring than the boredom and off they'll go. I love it! And I love this new way to think about boredom, which I've seen occasionally with Yoav.

Chapter 6 - Filtering out the Adult World
* This is the chapter that I got the book for since I want Jer to read this chapter. It has some great ideas!
* Primary simplification here is to simplify Screens - ideally to remove TVs or at minimum, move them to the adult's bedroom (assuming there's no co-sleeping anymore) or out-of-way room. He goes on at length as to the negatives of TV - I won't attempt to summarize it.
* Regarding violent TV / video games, he says young children (until six or seven) are "developmentally and psychologically unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy." So they often confuse violence they see on TV as "real" and, almost worse, by watching front the comfort and safety of the home, they become desensitized to violence.
* He notes that in "Failure to Connect" by Jane Healy, she notes that kids who don't start using computers until adolescence gain competency within months equal to that of children who've used them since they were toddlers. So the argument that kids need to learn about computers early because computers have become such a dominant part of adult life just doesn't seem to hold water.
* He recommends avoiding computers until at least age seven.
* Talks about helicopter parenting and how kids feed off our emotions. He suggests reducing adult exposure to anxiety-inducing media and other anxiety-inducing activities to help us stay calmer and maintain calm around our kids.
* Discusses the benefit of talking less - not talking to kids about adult topics - be conscious of the sanctity of the adult world and the world of children.
* Show confidence in your life and hope for the future.
* Says to use a Threefold Filter when talking to kids - "True, Kind, Necessary" - test anything you say to your kids against this filter - Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?
* Don't talk too much to young kids (less than nine) about their feelings - says it rushes kids along, "pushing them into a premature adolescence." Says in kids under nine, most feelings are "unconscious, undifferentiated".
* A great quote: "By imposing our emotions on [our kids] less, we allow our children to develop their own emotions, and their awareness of them.
* His last suggestion is to do a brief meditation before bed - to "remember the ordinary moments of the day, the moments with your children that meant something to you. This simple exercise is like a spiritual corrective lens."

There's so very much more in the book, this is just a little summary of the highlights for me. If you read the book, let me know what you think of it!

Moved...

I've been offline for a week during our move from Hod Hasharon to Moshav Mata. We're all moved in and semi-settled. We need some new furniture since our last house had a few built-in pieces and this one is totally bare, without even a closet in the bedroom! Not to worry, though, I have a walk-in pantry and I'll happily trade a walk-in pantry for a walk-in closet ;) Plus we have a room in the basement that I can use somewhat like a root cellar, so that will be fun. It's called the "Mamad", which is the safe room - all houses in Israel are required to have such a room (I think). So I'll keep water and non-perishables as well as root veggies.

So far, everything is amazing in the new house. We don't have air conditioning, but the house seems to be positioned so perfectly for passive cooling - we are at the end of a street up a bit on a hill with a forest to one side and mountain in front of the house which somehow translates into an amazing breeze that comes through the house, even on the hottest of days (it got up to 110 F the other day!) At night, it feels like we have air conditioning running on full blast. Amazing. And, even better is sitting out on the porch watching the sun set over the mountain and then enjoying the cool breeze as we eat dinner outside with NO mosquitoes!!!

I've promised myself to stay totally positive about this house. I was happy with our last house for a while, but then the unbearable mosquito situation made me kind of sour on it. This time I'll keep any negative feelings to myself. Yoav picks up on any negativity so strongly and won't let go...

Yoav and Elie seem to be in the midst of developing a friendship. I think it has much to do with Elie's advances in speech. Well, and I guess advances in everything. Since we were toy-less for a few days during the move, Yoav and Elie had to find non-toy ways to play. That led to playing some games together. The cutest is High Five. They play High Five at least twenty times a day now. And watching Elie lead it is the cutest thing ever. I got a video, but I still have to wait a few more days before the external photo drive is set up. Elie does everything perfectly other than the slightly Elie-ized words - he says, "Hive Five... Up High... Down Low... Oooh Oh!!!" When he says the Too Slow / Oooh Oh part, he moves his hand away quickly and smiles with glee! I could play all day with him myself :) The other game is something Yoav made up - he says, "Can I have one?" then prompts Elie to say "Done"; then Elie repeats the question and says Done. Then the same for numbers up to eight, which are 2 / Boo; 3 / Bee; 4 / Bour; 5 / Dive; 6 / Sticks; 7 / Heaven; 8 / Too Late and then the game is over with the two of them laughing about it being "Too Late". Yoav seems to really enjoy this game, and Elie likes anything that involves him getting to play with Yoav.

I have another really great video I took today of Elie and Yoav playing in the new playroom (which is mostly set up and looks pretty good - I'm hoping to paint it with the Lazure painting method in the next month or so). I can't upload the video because Elie is naked, unfortunately, so I'll summarize here...
Yoav was drawing and singing and Elie was playing with cars on blocks.
Yoav is drawing and yammering on about all sorts of things with Elie and says, "Elie likes cars" and continues talking....
Meanwhile, Elie heard the word car and says, "That my car."
Yoav perks up: "What's your car?"
Elie points to one
Yoav: "I think that's both of our cars. I can have a turn AND you can have a turn. Elie's car and my car."
Elie: "That my car."
Yoav: Standing to come over... "Yes, should I have it AND you'll have it? Like I'll have a turn AND you'll have a turn."
Elie with a big smile to Yoav as Yoav comes over: "Yep"
Then they both play cars a little together and Elie moves a few backward. Yoav explains really sweetly and calmly that cars "never" go backward and shows Elie how to do them. But he's in a totally happy la-la mood and moves a few cars and then jumps over the blocks to go back to the drawing table, where he continues drawing and singing.

The part about cars going backward was so great to see for me - for a long time, Yoav would scream if Elie so much as picked a car up off the blocks, saying that cars don't fly, they can't go backward, etc. He had all sorts of rules for how to play with the blocks which obviously made it impossible for Elie to play. Yoav seems to be slowly letting go of much of his rigidity and becoming more resilient.

We were very jetlagged for a bit after our trip to the States and are slowly getting adjusted (it's been two weeks and a day since we've been back). Finally today Elie fell asleep at 8:30 and Yoav at 9:00. I'm hoping to get them sleeping by 8. Yoav was sleeping 12 hour nights for a bit and it was so good for him.