Homeschooling wrap up

It snowed! We are so excited that it snowed before we leave for our vacation. Homeschooling this week was an easy one. We had a blast celebrating St. Nicholas feast day and did some modeling with clay correspondent with our story.

Mr. 4 is doing an awesome job using clay and forming it to what he wants. We also drew with block crayons this week. Still no recipe for us this week with the fast in full swing so we are continuing just the little ones helping me cooking.

I am reading so many posts about the frenzy holiday season and how to take care of yourself. I feel like this is vital to homeschooling mothers. There are expectations from us from our family and sometimes we forget to take care of the person that holds it all together … you. We hold so much weight as mothers and taking realistic time for ourselves is a must. Whatever that looks like for you on a realistic level I hope you take the time this season for yourself.

This year of homeschooling has been such a blessing to me. I hope it was the same for you. I will be taking a holiday break here myself. Merry Christmas everyone! Looking forward to 2018!

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St. Nicholas

Many people are celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas today and what a joy! As the years pass and my children get older and older I really appreciate childlike things more and more. Seeing the joy in their faces as they await the feast, wondering what will be in their shoes, preparing gifts for their friends, are all things that I find my self experiencing all over again.

Many people know the story of St. Nicholas. He was from a wealthy family with his uncle as his biggest influence that taught him that serving his neighbor is most important. There are many stories of St. Nicholas and the story of the golden coins seems to be the most popular among Orthodox friends at least.

Celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas is always my favorite because it takes away from the frenzy of the holiday month with so much focus on gifts and what things we want or what our kids want and what our relatives want. The story of the saint is such a great example of what our focus and attitudes should be during this time of focus in the world on materialistic things. So early on in the December month and the holiday race to Christmas, it sets me in the realistic mind of Christmas. I try to capture that joy in my kids and see it through their eyes.

So today as we unwrapped our shoes and found our own golden coins, I saw the light and believe in my kids and tried to remain thankful throughout the day. What a season to be thankful and count our blessings! For the family and the love for the peace and the joy.

Homeschooling week

Greetings homeschooling world!

I am so excited to finish up this first semester here in seminary and also with our homeschooling before the holiday break. This past week we decided to continue with our waldorf story book using the story about the birds and changing seasons. It tied wonderfully with our weather here outside and all the birds coming to our bird feeder recently.

We continued to model and Mr. 4 is getting really good at beeswax and molding things into something his mind created. It’s really beautiful to see the transformation of the will in a child. We made a little cardinal from felt as well by using a Pinterest idea I saw with felt birds. Mr. 4 helped me stuff the bird and tried his hand at weaving during the process. I noticed he’s enjoying the process of actually retelling the story using the props we created and plays way more afterwards. We have not really be baking recently because of Orthodox Nativity fast but everyone has been super excited about helping in the kitchen so I allow them to help me with regular fasting meals while I cook. The dinner table presents a lot of questions about where things come from and it’s nice to discuss after they see the food that’s being put into their meal.

This week we also did another tinkergarden activity using left over play dough with the kids looking for nature treasures to put into their play dough. It’s getting colder here in NY so it’s nice to have an activity for the kiddos when we go outside since they tend to just want to go back inside if we do not. It seems like the community is wanting their kids to be outside more this winter in comparison to our first two years so it is nice that we are not the only ones that feel like fresh air is benefiting for kids. We also had a few birthday celebrations here which we celebrated outside!

The end off Fall has been so beautiful as always. I will sure miss this if we get placed somewhere without seasons.

Next week is St. Nicholas feast day! What will you be doing?

Catechism for children

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share with you a little more about the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and catechism for children. It has been really hard for me to incorporate catechism for my boys as part of my homeschooling, mainly because I feel there is so little time to get everything done. The church is such a part of our lives since we are in seminary, I always feel like I do not need to do much since the boys are living it everyday with their father being a priest. However, recently I was watching a YouTube channel of a homeschooling mom of 8 that is a Christian and got really inspired by her teaching and reading the Bible with her kids everyday and memorizing verses. Reading the Bible has been a big problem for me, simply said I do not do it often even though the Church provides daily reading schedule for us that are not that long. So this week I decided to start reading the Bible with my kids to at least start talking about Christ and who he was.

The Garden of Theotokos curriculum provides a really great way to introduce certain concepts. For example, the kiddos are still going over the days of creation and are on day 3. It seems like the kids are actually getting it and are enjoying the a Waldorf style of learning with this curriculum. I have also been trying to do the Sunday gospel reading lessons with my oldest son getting the lessons from the Antiochian archdiocese website and just doing the lesson with him separately. Since we are in seminary I feel like there is no consistency with Sunday school, we do not have a consistent parish we go to so this is hard, so I felt like it was up to me to have them learn about the gospel readings and this was the easiest way.

I like the little added activities attached to the gospel reading and questions they have according to the level of the child. For example, this weeks reading was about the man that stored up treasure on earth in Luke 15, the activity for kids was to take some toys and explain it as stuff and then do a small game trying to discern between scenarios if it is a treasure in heaven or earth.

Overall, this has been an interesting experiment but I do see more of a discussion in my house about Christ now. I am curious about what others are doing in terms of catechism for their kids? Maybe there is a great curriculum out there I am missing. Let me know in the comments below!

Book review

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to do a quick book review here for all those Christian moms out there following me. I have had this book for a while and recently reopened it again. This is not a book that is a sit down and read type. It has many different prayers for different areas of motherhood. What I love about this book is that at any time you can look in the table of contents and search for the prayers you need. I also like how they are not all formal prayers that we are used to and more on a personal request that I felt like are words given in a time when you don’t have any words.

There are also some stories of many beautiful Orthodox mother saints that I personally love reading because it constantly encourages me to look at someone that is a mother with many kids, that has finished the race. I will say that when I did originally get the book I did not think I would use it a lot but now with such little time left in the day I do find myself running to this book for short prayers very often. The book also has various Psalms after the prayers which I liked as a way to memorize them in relation to what I am dealing with at the moment.

Overall I am thinking about getting this book for a few of my friend for Christmas in hopes to encourage their motherhood journey. A copy of this book can be purchased on Ancient Faith Publishing website if you are interested.

Homeschooling: Baking, modeling and nature

Hey everyone!

How was your homeschooling week? Our own Waldorf journey is taking an interesting turn. We have gone away from the Waldorf Essentials curriculum we have been using and have just started using a waldorf storybook we have for our stories. This week in honor of St. Martin’s day on the 11th and lantern making week with our co-op, we chose the Fiochetto Bianco story in “Tell me a Story.”

I️ made the shepherd boy from clay and found some inspiration from a YouTube channel on a different way to tell the story. I️ tried a lot with the storytelling process of Waldorf. I️ used to read the stories since I’m a terrible storyteller, then I️ tried to tell the story from memory which I️ did a terrible job at since I️ kept forgetting parts of the story, now I️ semi remember the story and I️ have Mr. 4 help me move the character pieces while I️ retell the story. I️ am curious to find out what everyone else does in terms of homeschooling and storytelling?

Everyone came together and made lanterns for our lantern walk. The boys had so much fun with this and I can’t wait to see them walking and singing the songs for this season.

These chilly days and nights remind me that the time for inward silence is coming. Slowly the children start staying more inside and the community starts to have their own rhythms of limited outside time and indoor activities. I️ still take the boys out everyday because I️ really feel the walls closing in if I️ don’t and on top of that a small apartment full of boys looks like a huge tornado constantly runs through the house. On top of that we see and discover such beautiful things all the time around us like a family of swans in the lake and beautiful clouds we make us stories to.

This is going to be the last month of us homeschooling. We might do only one week in December since we are going back to California for the winter break from seminary. Next week I️ think I️ am still going to continue with the story book and do a Thanksgiving story since Thanksgiving week my husband has off from school. I️ am so excited for a break this year. Last year in seminary is filled with just counting down the days until Lent and then just waiting for placement. It will be nice to live a real life for a month and go to the beach while in NY everyone is in 30 degreeweather :o)

Homeschooling week: Bread making, modeling and block crayons

Hello everyone! I hope your week was fruitful. This week we decided to go with my gut and try something new for homeschooling. I used a story from the Wynstone Press the Autumn collection with the Autumn Story. We substituted the hedgehog in the story for a mouse and based our weekly handwork around that story.

This approach worked out really well surprisingly. I had doubts about it since in Waldorf Essentials curriculum has this continuation story which at first I thought Mr. 4 will really follow since it’s the same character that keeps showing up but like I said in my previous posts it really didn’t speak to him, hence me trying something different. I just see it as homeschooling freedom since that is part of the beauty and flexibility of homeschooling your kids.

For our handwork this week we collected acorn hats and then used beeswax to make little acorns to put into them. We used the acorns in our story set up. I also decided to try a new rhythm with our school time to see if there is more of a flow. Before we used to do circle time then the story and then our activity but this week we did the story after our activity. This approach left a little more wiggle room for playing with the material after, it seemed to work out great also while I cleaned the mess from our bread baking day. Yes mixing flour and cutting apples is a messy experience. For those that have tried it as part of their Waldorf homeschooling and keep going with baking I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Sometimes I find it takes a lot more perseverance to keep baking more than any other activity in homeschooling.

We also tried our hand at block crayons this week. I will continue to see how Mr. 4 likes this since he’s not really into the following my lead stage quite yet. He still really just wants to not make any forms that look like anything specific and I don’t want to push that on him, so we will see.

The rest of our week was spent exploring the forests and hiking trails of Cranberry Lake Preserve here in NY. The weather was beautiful and fall is always a season where you can treat each day as if it’s new because of the constant change in color all around. I will miss this part of NY when we leave here because it is honestly really beautiful to experience seasons. My sons love climbing trees and looking for great sticks and rocks. It is truly beautiful to see them connect with nature in this way. The same scenery outside looks different every day. That’s why some New Yorkers say that in fall they treat each day as their last.

That was our week of discovery and adventure. I hope you are doing well on your homeschooling journey so far.

Homeschooling: Painting, cooking and tinkergarden

Happy Friday everyone! I hope your week was fruitful. Our week was full of some painting and then we used a recipe of our own for an apple crisp paleo style pie. For our handwork this week we made our own boats, this was a fun handwork experience and next week our plan is to set them in our local creek here on seminary ground.

This week I did tweek the story a little bit and also have to modify it next week since we somehow landed a week ahead of schedule. I started my own handwork project this week with attempting to knit a lion toy for the first time. I am using the book “Beginning knitting projects for children” because I figured I have to know how to do the project myself before I attempt to teach it to my 1st grader. I realized that I really am not a follow reading instructions person. I tend to fall into the whole visual learning style and kind of finding it difficult to even know what the book means by statements like cast on 10 rows, knit for 10 rows and then at the beginning of the next 2 rows cast on 10 stitches. Whhhaattt?? Confused already and trying to watch YouTube videos for guidance. If you happen to have a good link for a knitting video please send me a link!

The rest of our work week consisted of a birthday party. It was tinkergarden theme. For those not aware of tinkergarden activities head over and check out their website that is full of outdoor activity fun for kids. This week we made our magic potion, learned about colors and following directions and also had a magic show for the birthday boy by one of our kids here.

The weather is on our side so far. Everyone is sucking up all the sunshine and warmth while they can. I tend to find myself thinking of my own handwork ideas rather than using Waldorf Essentials curriculum stuff a lot. Most of the reason is because I am a visual learner. I also find it hard to just want to do crafty things if my boys are not that into the story. The boats were good this week but I did not see handwork for next week they would like. Maybe that’s just my experience, so that’s the only thing I have a hard time with. I hear Lavender Blue curriculum has mainly handwork for every week not really recipes. If someone has experience in that curriculum please share your thoughts with me.

Overall though that is what we did this week with the curriculum. I hope everyone’s weekend is relaxed before the costume making frenzy begins before Halloween.

Homeschooling: Sugar cookies, modeling and apples

Happy Fall everyone! We definitely felt it this week in the weather change when it started to finally be in the 60’s here in NY. Our week was filled with many adventures. We are taking advantage of our last year here in seminary and went apple picking for the first time. It felt really nice to create those memories with the family and the days could not have been better for that event. Now the question is… what am I supposed to do with all these apples?

For our projects this week in handwork we did a lot of modeling. Here on campus they had an event that gave us an opportunity to model even more. I see myself really needing to control my own wants over my kids to try to see them accomplish something with the clay. This is my biggest struggle since I tend to want to see a result as if it accomplishes a check mark off my own to do list in homeschooling. Gradually though I am learning to let go. This weeks recipe called for sugar cookies, which we made and has lots of fun putting them into animal shapes that went with the forest party theme in the story of Waldorf Essentials. I am noticing that Mr. 4 is not really that interested in the story content maybe because I myself am not enthusiastic when telling it. I am still thinking weather or not to continue with the same story or move to something he would be enthusiastic about, like using a story from the “Tell me a Story” Waldorf book that has many children’s stories in it. If anyone has struggled with this, I would love to hear how you handled it.

It was my turn to teach co-op this week and this was our last week with the days of the week. For Saturday, I focused on the story of St. Theodore and his koliva dream. I had the children use playsilks and do a short play of the story which they really enjoyed. I had a fun time being a kid myself and playing along with the story to inspire them to act out their part. I love seeing little kids eyes light up as the imagination expands. It’s almost like seeing something magical. We finished off with a craft of koliva for Saturday, with an explanation of why it’s sweet and how it is used to pray for the departed.

There was a lot of self work on my part this week with teaching and homeschooling and events so I had to dive inwards a lot. This time of year with the leafs changing and falling down I am reminded of winter coming and that inward work that goes with seasons.

DIY: Deodorant

Today I wanted to share with you my deodorant recipe. Now just a note but natural deodorant still makes you sweat, but sweat it not an unnatural thing! This deodorant will not leave any white marks on your shirts and no you really do not smell after using it. You may sweat but you won’t smell! So here is what you need:

1/4 tsp essential oil

1/4 cup of cornstarch (can use arrowroot)

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 cup of coconut oil

Combine all the ingredients and there you have it. I put mine in a jar and use a popsicle stick to put it on my armpits so my hands do not become oily. If you have a recipe that you use for deodorant please share it with me, I always like hearing different ingredients that can be used for one purpose.