Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Blanket

I made a little baby blanket for a friend who just had a baby.

The pattern is the "Quick and Easy Baby Blanket" from "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson.  It's listed as a 2-4 hour project, which is about right.  The cutting always takes me a long time (this is my third one - here's one and the other I forgot to take a photo of) and at the end, you make little embroidered stitches every 4" to hold it together (see last photo) which takes a long time to first measure and mark the locations and then to do all the stitching (by machine, but still slow...)

The front fabric is Harmony Art Sweet Jane organic sateen, backing is organic cotton (front and back from Organic Cotton Plus); batting is organic cotton and thread is organic thread from Near Sea Naturals, so it's truly a 100% organic blanket :)  I love how it turned out - the fabric is so soft and the pattern is gentle and the colors are lovely - perfect for a baby blanket!

The blanket is 33"x53", quite a bit bigger than the recommendation, but I had that much fabric and the batting is that size, so it seemed better to use it than to have a thin scrap to save indefinitely...

I want to get some sweet gender-neutral baby fabric to make a few of these as standby gifts so I don't find myself doing blindstitch at 1 in the morning again (ah, I just realized that the name of the book is Last Minute Gifts, so I guess it makes sense that I was making this blanket at the last minute!)...  I like that this gift is fun to make, practical, can be made fairly inexpensively if cheaper fabric is used, and is enough of a gift by itself (ie, I don't feel compelled to make several things when I give this blanket).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Memories


Yoav thinks he put modeling wax into his stomach through his belly button when he was younger and that now sometimes it hurts.  He was lying in bed supposedly falling asleep and picked some fuzz out of his belly button and thought he got some of the modeling wax out (this isn't the first time he's talked about this, though it's been a while).  Kids really do say the darndest things.  Not sure how/if to break it to him that the occasional tummy aches are definitely NOT caused by modeling wax :)


Elie lately has just been saying the funniest/oddest things - he tells stories as if they make sense (and I really think they make sense to him!), but they make NO sense to me or are just wacky!  He told me how he wants to try sleeping at Saba and Safta's house when they come visit and was talking about that and then in the story, he said, "But I don't know how to drive if I need you to come." as if that was a serious concern and he wasn't sure how to handle that issue in his plan...  Another time, he told me that he's getting two horses and the horses will stay inside so we'll have to put the puppy outside.

amimal = animal

{Yoav and Elie - Interactions}

In the car, Yoav (for at least a year now!) has declared that no one else can look out of "his" side and gets upset if Elie sees anything or mentions anything out of "Yoav's window" (like a passing truck or train).  The other day, we were passing sheep on Elie's side, so Yoav asked if he could look out of Elie's side (I've never heard Yoav ask this before).  Elie said yes.  Then a moment or so later, Elie asked Yoav, "Is it for all the times now I can look on your side and you can look on my side?"  Yoav said yes.  Here's hoping!

We were at my BILs house and my SIL invited the kids up to one of the bedrooms to do some singing and dancing.  Yoav seemed to want to go, but not alone, so he asked Elie if Elie wanted to go.  Elie said yes and they both headed up together.  When the singing was over, my SIL told me that Yoav and Elie were holding hands!  And when not holding hands, Yoav was putting his hand on Elie's back or hugging(!)  Then when Elie wanted to leave, Yoav helped him open the door and made sure he got out of the room ok.  This is NOT standard for us, BUT I have lately noticed that Yoav likes the security of Elie when I'm not around.  As you can see by the photo, they have some very sweet moments together - I took the photo before they noticed I was there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Form Drawing Planning

I have my first Form Drawing Block planned out as well!  This block will be 3.5 weeks at the start of the year.  I'll be doing a lot of watercolor painting during this time as well (form drawing and painting both to help with fine motor and writing prep), but I need to do more planning for the watercolor painting.

Form drawing is unique to Waldorf Education.  It helps the child prepare for both writing letters and later geometry. More information as well as a video is here, a great post is here by a very experienced Waldorf homeschooler, and here is an article on the Waldorf Library called "Form Drawing" by Rosemary Gebert.

I will be using the following books (the first two for reference of the forms and the third for the stories):
“Form Drawing for Beginners”, Donna Simmons
“Form Drawing for Grades 1-4”, Ernst Schuberth and Laura Embry-Stine
“Liputto”, Jakob Streit

My format for this block will be to tell the stories and then to draw the forms on the chalkboard and as I draw the form, I'll say the part of the story related to the form.

Week 1:  Form Drawing exercises per Mrs. M’s First Day article (available for free via her WaldorfHomeEducators Yahoo group) and Steiner’s indications (in “Practical Advice for Teachers”) and Ernst Schuberth Form Drawing book - Schuberth has instructions for first three days and will do Figure 3 (Day 3 in book) over two days.

Week 2:  
Story:  “Liputto” by Jakob Streit, The Story of the Little Gnome Liputto
Day 1 - Ring on Liputtos cap = circle form, Figure 6 (Schuberth book)
Day 2 - Seven rings on Liputto’s cap = concentric circles, Figure 7 (Schuberth book)
Story:  “Liputto” by Jakob Streit, Liputto and the Trampled Violet  
Day 3 - Liputto comes close to violet = Figure 8a (Schuberth book)
Day 4 - Farmer boy backs away and goes home = Figure 8a (Schuberth book)

Week 3:
Story:  “Liputto” by Jakob Streit, Liputto Saves a Bunny
Day 1 - Mom hops, then bunny hops - one big semicircle open down, the small one, then big, then small, then big, then small
Day 2 - bunnies hide in tall grass - tall vertical lines left to right on page
Day 3 - Mother rabbit sees field of carrots - horizontal lines top to bottom on page (like second row, second column of p. 14 in Donna Simmons’ “Form Drawing for Beginners”)
Day 4 - Bunny disappeared under a fern - first three semicircles from row 3, column 1 of p. 13 in Donna Simmons’ “Form Drawing for Beginners” - so two big semi circles open down with semi circle open up in the middle

Week 4:
Story:  “Liputto” by Jakob Streit, Liputto Saves a Bunny
Day 1 - the whole meadow was mowed by lawn mower - small vertical lines across page - p. 14 for Donna Simmons’ “Form Drawing for Beginners”, row 1, column 2
Day 2 - gnome takes rabbit to find her baby bunny - one horizontal line across page (for gnome’s path) and a series of semicircles open downward below straight line for rabbit hops

Monday, August 22, 2011

Language Arts Planning

I'm basically done planning my letter blocks for next year. I'll have two "blocks" to teach letters, which will be introduced with fairy tales.  The basic format is
Day 1:  I will TELL the story
Day 2:  I will unveil my pre-drawn drawing of the story (and Yoav will draw a similar drawing in his MLB (Main Lesson Book)) 
Day 3:  I'll reveal the letters in the drawings and we'll do related tongue twisters, and a variety of "writing" exercises (ie, "walk the form" (put a rope on the ground in the shape of the letter and walk along it), make the letter in sand, on another person's back, with feet, fingers, etc.) and Yoav will finally write the letter in his MLB.

Here is a famous example (outlined by Steiner on page 3 of "Practical Advice for Teachers") of such a drawing - look at the First Grade Fisherman Drawing in the fourth row of this page of chalkboard drawings.  The first drawing is what the child would see pre-drawn on the chalkboard on the second day (this drawing is for the Grimm's story "The Fisherman and His Wife"); then on the third day, the letters are "revealed" (F of the Fish and W of the Waves) as in the second Fisherman Drawing.

This article explains fairly well how I will be teaching writing and THEN reading.

I will use "Blackboard Drawing" by Frederick Whitney, available for free here, for help with my chalkboard drawings!

First Language Arts Block (October)

Week 1:  Rose Red and Snow White (p. 664, Grimms) - B(ear), V(ulture) - actually eagle in story but changing to vulture to get the V

Week 2:  The Water of Life (p. 449, Grimms) - M(ountain), J(ug) - actually cup in story but changing to jug to get the J

Week 3:  The Fisherman and His Wife (p. 103, Grimms) - F(ish), W(aves), Z(igzag) of lighting

Week 4:  The Goose Girl (p. 404, Grimms) - G(oose), C(at)

Second Language Arts Block (January)

Week 1:  The Nixie of the Mill Pond (p. 736, Grimms) - N(ixie), R(abbit), Y(ew) Tree

Week 2:  The Princess in the Tower (p. 50, "Leaves from the Garden of Eden" by Howard Schwartz) - P(rincess), T(ower), (o)X, L(ight) - will add light on tower

Week 3:  The White Snake (p. 98, Grimms) - K(ing), Q(ueen), S(nake), H(orse), D(uck)

Week 4:  Vowels - A Ah (father); E Ay (fame); I Ee (feet); O Aw (dawn); U Oo (moon) 
Teaching per Willi Aeppli in “The Developing Child” (highly recommended!) - p. 28-35
Story of angels who brought vowels to man per Aeppli book
Watercolor paintings of the "letter angels"
(will create a slightly modified version of this story based on Jewish view of angels - http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/692875/jewish/What-Are-Angels.htm)

Week 5:  Vowels, continued
Story:  “The Two Brothers” - Grimm’s - will look for and act out (with eurythmy gestures) examples of vowels, walk the forms, poems, etc.
Write letters in MLB

Friday, August 19, 2011

Featured on Parenting Passageway!

I have to say that, even though I have a blog and share a lot, I feel a bit exposed in a post I wrote for Carrie over at Parenting Passageway.

Here it is:


Now you know my full parenting history :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I (woops, I meant the kids) FINALLY have a sandbox!!!!!  I have been wanting a sandbox for almost four years now, ever since I first read "Heaven on Earth" by Sharifa Oppenheimer.  Oppenheimer describes her lovely sandbox made with fallen tree logs for the borders and she explains how important sand boxes are for children - fun, creative, great sensory experience.  I also wanted a sandbox for First Grade because we will write forms and letters in the sand with sticks and body parts...

Though we live next to the forest, collecting fallen logs would be beyond our current forestry abilities ;)  So, my husband went to the hardware store yesterday (for those in Israel, we go to Nissan in Bet Shemesh - it's a great hardware store in the industrial area of the City) and got three pieces of wood, each 5.7 meters long and 10 cm wide.  Then these were each cut into two 2 meter pieces and one 1.7 meter piece (we saved money doing it this way rather than just asking for all 2 m pieces).  We had four 2 m pieces and four 1.7 m pieces.

To make the sandbox, first we had to saw the 1.7 m pieces a little because they weren't all exactly the same size.  Yoav did really well with the saw.  He tried some sawing about six months ago with a lesser quality saw and didn't like it at all.  We have a better saw now and Jeremy was helping so it went much better!

Next they screwed two of the 1.7 m pieces together, then screwed the other two 1.7 m pieces together.  Yoav got to use his egg beater-style drill we got from Garrett Wade - it's very unique and is great for young kids (fun to be able to drill at all, but the motion of the hand drill is good for fine motor development)!

Then they attached one of the 2m pieces at the end with long wood nails (he tried screws but found it hard to get them all the way in) and one 2m pieces at the other end.

And finally they attached the additional 2m pieces to the previously attached 2m pieces.

We put some old tarp down at the bottom of the box so the sand wouldn't come out the bottom.  I think Sharifa Oppenheimer said you don't need this, but we tried a very small sandbox before without a bottom and the sand mixed up with dirt pretty quickly and got gross.

Next the sand came!  Half a cubic meter of it!  How fun for the boys - a huge truck with a crane came and plopped the bag of sand down right in the middle of the sandbox.  btw, real sand is MUCH easier to find in Israel, since there's so much more sand!  I finally found one thing cheaper in Israel than the US other than produce!

Finally the boys nailed the tarp to the inside of the box.

And emptied the sand into the sandbox - I love that Elie went to get a chair to make this part easier ;)

I'd like to cut it down a little so you can see the beautiful wood frame, but I probably need a power stapler or something to make sure the tarp is well-secured so sand doesn't slip through.  We'll cover it with another tarp at night to keep it free of icky-ness.

Oh, and the best photos of all, of course are those of the kids playing!  Guess which child said repeatedly that he doesn't want a sandbox and he will.not.play.in.a.sandbox!!!!  :)

We recently got a highly recommended book called "Woodworking with Children" by Lester Walker and all my boys are so excited to start doing woodworking projects.  I added weekly woodworking to our weekly schedule for First Grade!  Yoav is particularly excited to build the coaster car, which is the final and most complicated project.  He even has Elie talking about "his" coaster car, which will be red with a horn on it.  Elie today told me I could ride in his coaster car with him which will go "SO FAST!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Memories

The big news in our family is that we got a puppy - she was one of five born to a dog that friends took in.  Our friends think the puppies are half Pinscher and half Jack Russell.  So far, we're all thrilled with the puppy, who we named Tzippy (other than the potty training, which I'm pretty lost with!)


I was making a little ribbon blanket for a friend and Yoav noticed that two of the pink ribbons were not exactly the same color (was totally normal, just the way it was dyed).  I said, "Ah, no worries, it's close enough - it's just going to be chewed by a baby anyway, so it doesn't have to be perfect."  A little while later, I noticed that I had cut one of the ribbon pieces 4" instead of 4.5" and I said anxiously, "Oh no, one of the ribbons is too short!"  Yoav said (not as a joke, in all seriousness to help me relax), "But it's ok, it's just going to be chewed on by a baby, it doesn't have to be exactly the same." 

Yoav has been running little errands like bringing homemade crafts to neighborhood friends and he sometimes starts getting ready to leave the house alone, but then comes back to ask Elie to come with him.  Also at a friends, he was going into a tree house and he excitedly showed it to Elie and asked Elie to come with him to see it.

Yoav taught himself how to do front and back somersaults in the pool.  He has also taught himself to do the breast stroke quite well.  I now see what a joke are swim lessons!  So many kids his age have years of swim lessons under their belts and their parents probably think when they start swimming a nice stroke that it's because they had such a great swim teacher, when, in reality, it's likely just that the child is ready to swim!  Actually, Yoav is close to surpassing my swim ability because I felt such self-consciousness and anxiety through all my early years of swimming, especially when I had to wear a green swim cap at camp, which displayed to the lifeguards (and all the other kids!) that I was one of the worst swimmers!


Talking to Grandma, she said, "Is it dark there now?"  Elie responded, "No, we have the lights on."  LOL

I was doing nose kisses with Elie (touching noses) and when I moved away, he said, "Don't stop - let's do it forever!"  (he's a very cuddly three year old!)

We did not go in our pool during the Nine Days.  Ten minutes before the end of the Tisha B'Av fast, I said, "Ten more minutes!!!" to which Elie said, "I'm opening!"  Me, "Opening what?  We're having bagels..."  Elie, "I'm opening the pool!"  Of course there was no pool that night since the pool prohibition was until midday the next day and on top of that it was time for food and bed ;)

He likes me to take off his clothes so they don't end up inside out (I hope he can continue this until he makes some woman a happi(er) wife - I wish I didn't have to fix all my husband's clothes!!!), but instead of "inside out", he says "outside out".

He says piccups for hiccups ;)

He rides his little balance bike everywhere!  He brings into the bedroom and "parks" it next to the bed when he sleeps.  One night he had to go pee after we had already turned out the lights and he rode his bike to the bathroom (and had to find a parking spot in the bathroom while he peed).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yoav's Apron

I made another apron (this one will be for Yoav, the previous one will be for Elie) using the Montessori pattern and linen fabric from Grey Line Linen.

I made this one 2" wider, 5" longer and the neck strap 1" longer.  The neck strap would have been better 1/2", but it's fine as is.  Yoav is happy with the length and fit, so one more item that I can cross off my list!

Another bit of sewing I managed to do while the kids were awake :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If I knew then what I know now...

I was just making carrot cake for Shabbat and was searching the archives to see what substitutions I've made in the past.  Looking through the old posts, I found this one:

I WISH I could respond to that post three years ago and alter the past three years and not be doing the Work that I'm now doing with my son. I now so clearly know the answer and it seems so OBVIOUS now I want to hit the old Emily over the head!!!

If I could respond, I'd say:


He is looking for you to be the strong Alpha Mother - he needs you to help him adapt, to become resilient.  What he needed was to feel the futility of the situation.  And for children, futility must happen on an emotional level.  It is not enough for the child to be angry or frustrated - you must help to draw out the tears for him to FEEL the sadness of not having measured the water himself.

So, what to do?  You simply say, "Ah, you wanted to pour the water yourself?!"  Then, hold him, attend to him, comfort him as he experiences perhaps first the frustration and anger (at you) of not being offered the chance to do this himself, and then as he experiences the SADNESS of missing this opportunity.  You must be an agent of futility AND a source of comfort!  You don't say, "Ah, you wanted to pour the water yourself?!" and let the child cry for an hour in the corner or in his/her room.  You must be there with the child as the source of comfort.

Resilience follows *felt* futility.  He will see that he did not get to pour the water AND that he survived this experience.  This will develop resilience in him.  

Hope this helps to save you years of your own frustration :)

Future Emily


This I believe so very strongly, deep in my heart, as Truth.  This is (along with much much more), the teaching of Gordon Neufeld. His teaching is attachment-based and he teaches how to develop a very strong attachment and how we as parents gain power from that attachment (and how we can use this power to parent with love and without punishments, rewards or consequences). A dear friend here in Israel, Leigh Bar-Yakov, has taken classes with him and is now working as a parenting coach and will be teaching his Power to Parent course in September in Israel near Bet Shemesh.  The course will the same as the Power to Parent course offered online here, complete with Neufeld DVDs, with the added benefit of weekly meetings with Leigh to help more clearly understand the materials.  She will also help us to see how to implement his teachings in our current parenting situations/troubles. 

Please email me if you live in Israel (even if you're not near Bet Shemesh, because she would like to offer classes in other areas as well) and are interested in taking the class.  If not, I highly recommend his Power to Parent class online.  And, at the very least, read his book, "Hold on to your Kids" and check out some of his YouTube videos. Your life (and the lives of your children) might be changed forever ;)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Desks and Proper Handwriting

I've been thinking about Yoav's "school" desk for months (literally) now. A child's desk must be the proper height for him to develop good handwriting. This is particularly important to me because I did not learn to hold a pencil properly and aside from the callous on my fourth finger (which of course shouldn't be involved!), I find writing to be unpleasantly uncomfortable.

I recently read a book that I highly recommend called "Teaching Children Handwriting" by Audrey McAllen.  On page 34, she has a stick figure drawing of proper and improper seating.

I had planned to buy a small wood desk and cut off the feet, but it would be hard (for us, since we're woodworking newbies) to get the feet smooth and even.  And I'd have to keep buying new desks as Yoav gets bigger and finding people who want short-leg desks ;)

On a recent trip to IKEA, we found what seems like a near perfect solution - a small (2'x3') desk with adjustable legs.  It's this one, which is part of the Galant series.  And we already have a Stokke chair with adjustable seating.  It would be more perfect if the desk started a little lower so we wouldn't need to use the foot rest, but, for now, I have it set up with the foot rest and Yoav seems to be positioned almost almost exactly like the stick figure on page 34 of McAllen's book :)

I've been very careful not to leave pens and pencils around the house so the kids don't use them.  It's important that kids don't myelinate improper pen hold before they even learn proper positioning.  And, obviously, it's important to watch how they hold the pencil once they start writing (whether they go to school or are at home) and to help them with the proper positioning if they seem to start off wrong.  Once it's myelinated, it's VERY hard to change.  Even as a kid (after I'd been writing for at least a few years), I remember trying to hold the pencil properly and I found it terribly uncomfortable, although I'm sure it would have been easier then than now - I'm going to have model proper pen hold when I'm writing with Yoav... 

There is a lovely idea in the McAllen book about how to help children develop good posture when writing:  
"the children can sit like a king preparing to sign a royal decree, his feet placed on a footstool, his red robe keeping his right arm to the side of his body, the left hand weighted by a heavy flashing ring of jewels so that all see him move the paper as his right hand writes.  And he must hold his head up straight so that his "crown does not fall off!""
I will be using this imagery when we start writing in the Fall (next month!!!)  I'm going to use Yoav's birthday crown as the crown, a playsilk as the robe, and old ring with a shiny stone glued on for the ring of jewels.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back Pain Hot Pad - Tutorial

This will be a VERY simple tutorial, mostly for my own benefit, so I can make these again :)  This is a GREAT gift for anyone with back pain.  It was a request from a family friend who, of course, has back pain.  She saw something similar a few years ago and told me about it and that she regretted not buying it then, since she hasn't seen anything like it since, so I volunteered to make one and thus got the benefit of her detailed description and help in implementation!

This is filled with flax seeds and can be microwaved to heat the flax (which retains heat and cold well).  Then you rest it between your back and bed or couch to relieve back pain.

26" x 15" cotton or linen or favorite fabric
matching thread
about .5 kg flax seeds (hopefully not organic like I used...)


1.  Wash and iron fabric.

2.  Cut two pieces of fabric to 13" x 15" each.  (One side is longer because once the pad is filled with flax, the horizontal side shortens a bit - guess how I know that??  LOL.)

3.  Fold down one of the long sides on each piece of fabric 1/2 " to the wrong side and press.

4.  With right sides facing, sew three sides together with a 1/2" seam.  The side with the 1/2" fabric pressed down is the side that will not be sewed.  Trim corners.

5.  Turn right side out, poke out corners so they look square and press.

5.  With a ruler and vanishing marker, mark 12 vertical lines evenly (the total fabric width will be about 14", so the lines are about 1.17" apart.

6.  Sew along these lines, going back and forth at beginning and end.

7. Measure out 1.4 oz flax seeds and fill into the first column.  Pin top so seeds don't fall out.

8.  Continue #7 for remaining 11 columns.

9.  Topstitch closed, going back and forth at beginning and end and making sure not to sew over seeds.

10.  Cut loose threads.

11.  Wait for vanishing marker to disappear and give to friend who will say, "Aaaaah, Thank You!!!"

I'll try to take photos of the next one I make so this will be clearer.