Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yes, I Got Rhythm...

... Who could ask for anything more?


I've been on a bit of a hiatus.  We moved to a new house about two weeks ago.  Our first home purchase, here in Israel, in a small moshav (rural town) called Eshta'ol, about 20 minutes to Jerusalem and 40 minutes (or so) to Tel Aviv.

With the move came, as expected, a bit of chaos.  Aside from the general anxiety of moving, we had almost no rhythm for the past two weeks.  I watched both kids behavior go down such a steep downward spiral that, a few days ago, I started seriously thinking it could be possible that my 6yo has clinical depression (versus the actual combo of 6 Year Change, Melancholic Temperament and recent move)...  ;)

So, yesterday, I started thinking about what I might post to my various Waldorf groups for help.  And I quickly realized that there was no reason to post because I knew that the responses would all be some form of:  Is your rhythm strong?


So, I printed out Marsha Johnson's (WaldorfHomeEducators Yahoo group - she's a Waldorf teacher who runs a Yahoo group for Waldorf homeschoolers and she is an invaluable resource!) Kindergarten Guide (a pamphlet titled, "A Week in the Home Kindergarten")

and put together a new rhythm modified a bit from our previous one to (hopefully) better meet the current needs of my kids.  I'm also going to try to changing the week to be Sun-Thurs with Friday left for Shabbat prep so I don't feel any pressure to do anything else on Fridays...

Daily Rhythm:
Rise/Dress/Make Bed
Focused Activity (see weekly rhythm below)
Outdoor Play (not sure what will happen here when the weather gets hot - might need to be switched with the Focused Activity)
Story-related or Seasonal Art (brief)
Lunch Prep
Quiet Time
Free Play
Dinner Prep
Bed Prep

Weekly Rhythm:
Su - Gardening Day
M - Painting Day (and Yoav has a horseback riding lesson at 2pm, which will be during the free play, no longer as one of our anchors)
T - Sewing/Handwork/Craft Day (will focus on sewing and handwork projects for the home or as gifts)
W - Washing/Ironing Day (kids can clean the kitchen cabinet outsides, help iron linen napkins)
R - Baking/Cooking Day

F - Shabbat Prep
Sa - Shabbat

This week, our story is "Gingerbread Man", sewing project is to make a felt Gingerbread Man ornament that we'll gift to a friend and on Baking Day, we'll bake gingerbread men.

Circle is same as it was prior to moving, which should help provide some stability/continuity.

This morning when we came downstairs for breakfast, Yoav immediately started in with, "What Can I Do? What Can I Do? What Can I Do? What Can I Do?"

I simply said, "Today is Gardening Day - don't worry - we'll be busy today."  He felt the Mama Duck energy in my statement and I didn't hear this question for the rest of the day.  In the end, we had a great day today, our best in at least three weeks (since I was packing pre-move and not keeping up with our rhythm well).  Yoav participated fully in Circle and clearly enjoyed it; both kids listened to the Story, with Yoav mesmerized as usual.  After (telling) the story, I led us to our craft table to draw and I drew a picture of the Gingerbread man and the various animals/people who ran after him.

Sometimes the Waldorf Way seems really exhausting to me - I dream of days spent lazily reading on the couch sipping tea, but the fact is that those days aren't relaxing - I *do* try this sometimes, thinking I can make the dream a reality, but the actual result is me sitting with a book on the couch with the kids fighting or Yoav asking me over and over what he can do (typical part of the 6 Year Change).  The Waldorf Way requires such strength from me, especially when getting "back on the wagon", but the results are always so worth the effort.  Yoav digging in the dirt this morning and planting seeds, laughing as he galloped around the house during Circle, bulging eyes hanging onto every word of Story...  I'm so thankful that I found Waldorf and I hope that on the bad days/weeks, my friends (and mostly DH) will please remind me that I *can* do it and send me back to this post for inspiration ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cloth Pad Giveaway

Just wanted to share a Glad Rags Giveaway (International!)

Drawing is Mar 15.  Also, the woman who runs the site is known to be quite special as an infertility specialist if anyone is in need of a fertility guru...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shabbat / Simplicity Parenting

We went to friends for Shabbat this weekend and it was so calm and enjoyable.  I've been noticing lately how well my kids do when we're out of the house.  Not to say that they don't do well at home, but, out of the house, they really make me look good :)  This Shabbat, there were no tantrums, no angry words, no fights, no need for me to intervene other than a few gentle shush-es while our hosts were napping, no complaints about food (or anything else for that matter!).

Of particular interest to me was that there were three toys in the house (this family has older children) - a small set of Plan Toys blocks, a set of pick-up sticks and a set of 28 Connectagons (not 240 like in the link!)  I love that my kids happily played with these three toys for a full day.  They spent some time building with the blocks, some time pretending that the Connectagons were food (the kids served us "cookies"), and quite a lot of time with Yoav pretending to run a store that sold the blocks and Connectagons and the pick-up sticks were the currency we used.  BTW, this was not an adult-intensive game - the adults were talking and simply paused when our turn came around to "buy" something from Yoav's store.

There is a wonderful book called Simplicity Parenting in which the author, Kim John Payne, recommends first getting rid of half of your children's toys (donating or giving away) and then I believe he says to do the same with the remaining half.  We have very few toys at home - a set of tree blocks; Waldorf dolls for each child; a wooden play farm with wooden, felt and knit animals; a gnome home (used as a doll house for the little handmade gnomes); playsilks; a few small play kitchen items; a few wooden trucks; and various nature items - shells, pine cones and pebbles.  Having so few toys at home makes my kids less dependent on toys for fun and more creative in their play since each toy we have is open-ended.  Open-ended toys are those that can be many things (for example, silks can be clothes or grass or ocean) versus an electronic doll that sings a song when you push a button.  Because of this difference, play silks can be played with for hours (in a single day) versus probably a few minutes for an electronic doll.  And, as a further benefit, the kids are happy when they see that our Shabbat hosts have a small set of blocks, a small set of Connectagons and a small set of pick-up sticks rather than asking where the rest of the toys are or complaining that there's nothing to do.

In a world where children's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, I'm so very thankful to have found this slow movement - thankful that my family prefers to watch a sunset together than to watch a TV show or play a video game!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Morning Walk

I've been loving our morning walks lately.  We used to walk along the forest path, but it turned into a bike riding outing and I so wanted to have a morning *walk*.  So I started going a rockier route so Yoav takes along his nature bag and really is just enjoying the walks (Elie still takes his bike - he and his bike are rarely apart - he rides it in the house and even IN the forest). 

Here are some photos from our walk yesterday:

The neighbor's pony got out, so Yoav helped get him home.

I love the way the houses are nestled in the valley with the forest surrounding the moshav...  The rows of plants near me are grapes.

View of the forest:

Lots of these trees growing in the area - they look like a cherry blossom relative.

Goats and horses at a small farm along the path...

Climbing a tree at the playground.