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.

Advertisements

Homeschooling: Painting, baking and storytelling

This week in homeschooling was a bit rough for us I must admit. It was hard to get my kiddos into the Woody, Hazel and Lil Pip story and also we did not have things we can dye together for handwork. I love the story and was looking forward to this part but it did not really speak to Mr. 4 at this time. We had an extra day of school this week cause my hubby is out of town so we decided to redeem the whole week by shortening the story and acting it out instead of reading it. We also used a different recipe this week since we had so much bread left over from last week. We made banana and blueberry bread, paleo style, since my husband needs to have a diet change due to his energy levels being so low. For our extra school day we ended up having a second day of baking and just doing cookies which worked out wonderful with the party at the end of the story. What to do but adjust. This is why homeschooling is great.

Overall, it was one of those… mama is going to be a better mama if we do less type of week. This NY strange fall weather, too much going on in community, added to stress energy for myself and my kids. In times like these I like to brush it off and just move on. No use in feeling guilty for not accomplishing certain tasks or not having enthusiastic boys for circle time. It is easy to do here in seminary, since majority of moms homeschool and the other half have their kids in public school. Different learning styles are always discussed and sticking to my own gut has been exhausting on its own.

For our Russian, we are moving on slowly but surely. The boys are getting it and I am happy to have them speaking it a little. Below is my awesome artistic abilities of stick figures. I am learning that consistency is key when teaching a foreign language.

Finally, for our tinkergarden activity we presented a sheet the kiddos can tinker with after reading the book “Not a Stick”. This was a beautiful experience, seeing the kids have so much fun and their imaginations just go with making a sheet into a dragon, fort, a popcorn maker, just to name a few things. I really enjoyed watching them.

At the end of it all, with weather still in the 80’s for now (eekk what will winter bring?!) all we can do is enjoy the sun and run barefoot through the grass still and on occasion even put our feet up.

Hope your own homeschooling journey was a success this week. I would love to hear about it.

Reflection: Seeing the other side

I recently was brushing teeth with my boys and every mother knows it’s one part of the bedtime routine that can get really mundane. After going through the rhythm of “ok now wash your face, ok let’s put the brush down… ok put the brush down… ok PUT the brush DOWN” I looked at my oldest son in the mirror. He gave me a big smile as I looked at him in the mirror and then he turned to me to look at me face to face. In that moment I realized that how I saw him in the mirror is so different from how he sees himself. I see him so much different than he sees himself and so much more beautiful than he knows he is at this moment.

It made me wonder about other people as well. How we honestly look at them through a mirror. We only see a little part of themselves. Sometimes we see the flaws in the mirror and judge or gossip about those flaws. The whole other side, the face to face side, is really hard to get to know. Sometimes we never get to see that side of people. Knowing that the other side exists in other people can in itself be eye opening.

My hope is to have that realization with me when I am inclined to judge or gossip about others. I hope I can carry that with me when people hurt me. That is what some believe to be… seeing the goodness in everyone, forgiveness and love.

Homeschooling: Our Week

Greetings everyone!

I don’t know about where you live but NY is starting to feel a little bit like fall is knocking on our door.

This week in homeschooling we didn’t do a whole lot. I wanted to start next week officially but started going over the story of Moses with Mr.4. We played a lot and hung out with friends mostly trying to get adjusted to the new routine with my husband gone in school. I have been taking walks with the boys early in the morning to get their crazy energy out before I attempted to do a story or any sort of school. Boys have a lot of energy ( or are those just mine?)

Here is our circle time songs now:

Come into the garden children and plant yourselves in a neat little row

Burrow down in a sweet little hollow in the fresh cool earth here below

All is dark and quiet and still the angels gather around

Mother Mary and all the saints are waiting to hear our soft sound

Lord Jesus Chris have mercy on us

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us today

My cross

This is the way I make my cross

One two three (thumb, forefinger tall finger)

Three fingers come together and the other two lie down

“Father” is my forehead for He is over all

“Son” is near my head while I stand straight and tall

“Holy Spirit ” shoulder shoulder

Then my cross is made

I can always take it with me while I work or rest or play

We also do some counting ones from a Waldorf book “Joyful Movement”

These are going to slightly change when we incorporate Waldorf Essentials next week.

Here is our classroom:

I always notice that the boys really gravitate towards nature things like building with pine cones or running in dirt or making mud. This simple analogy just shows the beauty of Waldorf education and how it goes with development of a child. Also, it shows that kids do not need a lot to be happy.

My handwork:

We have a feast coming up in the church for the Nativity of Theotokos. I prepared peg dolls to retell the story next week and we will switch the cloth on our place of prayer to blue for the Theotokos. This is my first big feast attempt but I really enjoyed the process as well as the end result. St. George and the dragon are my next project later in the month.

Hope you’ve had a great week as well! How are your homeschooling plans going? Have you started?

Snow day

Oh New York when will spring actually come? 

We are getting another snow storm here in NYC. Sigh. Being screen free parents can be hard and tempting at times especially when everyone around you has gone to the library to get movies for snow day for their kids. Well here we go, what do we do all day…

  1. Go out- there is no bad weather just bad clothes. 
  2. Read books about snow day- our favorite are The Mitten, and The Hat, also I Spy books
  3. Feed the birds- we just got a bird feeder that attaches to the window and all the winter birds are having a Feast outside our window.
  4. Make forts- provides hiding games and small reading nooks.
  5. Board games- Dinosaurs Escape, Friends and Neighbors we enjoy cooperating games.
  6. Play bowling, basketball, baseball… inside.
  7. Bake something- nothing like a good smelling house on a snowy day.

These might sounds like a lot of work for people especially when kids fight and make a huge mess you’d rather not clean up. It is a lot easier to put on a movie sometimes when they are whining about being bored, but why not let them be bored? 

    Reflection: Forgiveness 

    Today is Cheesfare Sunday for Orthodox Christians everywhere. That means Lent is officially here. We all have a special service to start the event titled Forgiveness Vespers. We all line up and face our community and ask each other for forgiveness. I personally love this service as it’s the perfect start to the Lent and the main focus of the season. Now is the time for reflection, quiet, peace, prayer and service to ones neighbors.

    Every year as Lent rolls around I get sad about all the meat and cheese we will miss but joyful also because it cannot come at a more perfect time. I stand there and face the people I go to church with first. The priests that work so hard. I ask them their forgiveness and they as me for mine in return. My friends and neighbors follow. I know that I need to ask them their forgiveness because at some point during the year I did have bad thoughts or even said mean words against them. Lastly, I stand before my husband, I look into his eyes and ask him to forgive me for anything that I might have offended him for. He asks the same of me. We bow to each other and forgive one another. 

    It is such a humbling experience to go through every year. I walk my overly tired kids back to the house and I try to keep my peace as long as possible. My sons loose it and I loose it on them. Bam. My peace is gone. I blame myself. All the wrong thoughts come into my head. My husband walks in and calms the storm. 

    As I sing my goodnight song to my oldest son I know what I have to do.

    “Buddy, I’m sorry I was angry just now. I will try to do better next time. Will you forgive me?” I say to my son.

    “Yeah mama.”

    Blessed Lent everyone.

    Story: Thankful 

    When my youngest son was born he was a month early. On the day we were packing up our boxes to move from California to NYC I was 34 weeks and started having major back pain. After he came via emergency c-section I somehow knew he would be my little heart ache.

    Ever since then we have been back to the ER and urgent care with him more than anyone else in the family. This week in preparation for Lent I was trying out different recipes and what do you know turns out this little man has a severe allergy to cashews.

    As his body and face began to rapidly swell up I knew I had to act fast. The nurse in me had to think quick because I know first hand what happens in these situation if people don’t act quickly. Off into the car I put him race as fast as I can to our local urgent care, they don’t even check me in and just rush me and my son to the back so he can get his Epinephrine shot and steroids. He is shaking at this point. I know he will be ok but it is still hard to see my own son like this. 

    A few moments later the storm has passed. He just wants to be held by his mama and I am so thankful so this moment. There we were again yet another stay for 6 hours in the hospital for monitoring to make sure he dosent react again. I had a lot of time to think about life during that time and could not stop thinking about timing. If only my husband wasn’t home and I didn’t have help what would I do? If I couldn’t get him there fast enough what would have happened. If he had an allergic reaction again during the night what would I do? 

    I started being so thankful for small moments again. Those kisses I am able to give him again in the morning, thankful for my husband being there for me and being my backbone. Thankful for my community getting that Epi pen for us when it was going to be too expensive for us. Thankful.

    It is the small things folks. What are you most thankful for today?

    Homeschooling 

    We are not in California anymore…


    Nothing like a snow storm here in NYC to remind us of how lucky we were in California with our weather. Our homeschooling week was interrupted by stomach sicknesses and a snow storm brought a stop to classes for my husband. We still did our story from Tell me a Story using Snowdrop on page 31. Also did out wet on wet painting and bread making since the boys couldn’t eat anything but bread. Our poem for the month is from All Around the Year by Elsa Beskow. 


    Since everyone was down this week we had plenty of book time and also retold stories using our animals from the Tell me a Story book about Mr. Grienders farm. Such simple and nice stories the boys seem to respond to them.


    I did use Winnie the Pooh movie when I needed to sleep, when I am sick I am not so crazy about technology. Recently my husband and I were previewing some popular kids shows that people in the community have their kids watch and we were so disappointed about the mixed messages or just crazy flashing from one scene to the next. Maybe we are getting old but what happened to quality with kids shows? Anyone else feel this way?Sigh.

    The rest of the time we did get some outside time in with shoveling our car out and just having sled fun.


    Have a great weekend everyone!

    Blessings.

    A monk


    Sometimes it is hard for us to see if we do any good to people by our small actions. A smile, a kind word, a thank you, a calm response. They all matter. I was recently reminded of this while drinking tea. 

    A monk on Mt Athos at the Russian monastery they visited reached up and grabbed a branch from a tree and said to my husband, “give this to your wife so she can put it in her tea and feel as if she has been here.” I did not think much of this until recently while I was battling my own thoughts on if what I do actually matters to others. Parenting is not a glorified job, let’s just face it most of the time kids do not use kindness as a way of getting what they want. So here I am taking out my branch and tearing off the leaf to put into my tea when I start to wonder if that monk ever dealt with these thoughts. 

    Everyone struggles in some way, weather with thoughts about worthlessness or pride, in the end we are called to do good. That is what that monk did. He does not know what this small branch means to me. He does not know if I will ever use it or toss it. He just did a good deed from his heart. 

    That act of kindness really did turn my whole battle into perspective. I will never meet this young monk since women are not allowed on the Holy Mountain, but as I drink my tea I do feel a little more appreciated that someone that doesn’t know me at all wanted to give me this small gift. 

    Welcome back 

    Well this week has been hectic with my husband coming back from Mt. Athos and the semester starting again it has been a busy bee hive. After living life as a single mother for 3 weeks, my respect for single mothers or military wives has increased tremendously. How do they do it? Go power mamas!

    What did I learn while he was gone is still in the processing part of my brain. I do not know if I learned anything. I did try to take my good friend Matushkas advice and recognize this time as my own, which I did. I prayed more, had more coffee, more cookies and more friend time. In a way it’s hard to get used to the same routine again once he’s home. At this point the time alone was a real blessing. A chance to reconnect with my oldest son in a way I haven’t done in a while. A chance to do some soul searching to see what direction I would like to take my life into. A chance to be thankful most of all. 

    So back to homeschooling and play dates . With Lent fast approaching the semester will be over in no time. 

    Blessings