Friday, January 30, 2009

Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting

So, also included in the goodies from Three Sisters were some Stockmar watercolors and a beautiful wooden painting board. I've been wanting to try this Waldorf way of painting for quite a while-- I'm really glad I did. I'm so impressed with A... her concentration and attention went far beyond any painting experiences we've had thus far. I think the wet on wet technique really made the paint come alive for her... it was really beautiful to watch.

First, I soaked the paper in lukewarm water in the tub for a few minutes while I got our paint mixed, brushes and boards ready (I painted as well, but to be frank, I think A's turned out better!). Then I put the wet paper on the board and used a cloth to wipe off any 'puddles'.

She didn't need much of an example- She intuitively knew just what to do!

A's finished Masterpiece

And here, hanging in our block corner.
It was such a great experience... Much better than our last try at temperas on the easel, in which she was easily frustrated and resulted in a huge mess. In the Waldorf way, you introduce one color at a time to the young child. I think this was key for her... she wasn't overwhelmed with choices and could really concentrate on the way the paint moved on the paper. It was just so...calm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

oohhh! Goodies from Three Sisters Toys

So, Three Sisters has been having this great sale- everything's 25% off. Which is great, except for the very troubling reason for the sale in the first place- the new CPSIA law which goes into effect February 10th. If you've not done so already, please click on the 'Save Handmade' teddy bear link to the right, where you can find more information and take action.

Anyway, we took advantage of the sale to get a few things we had been wanting for A, before they may no longer be available (enter crying smilie here).

My favorite is this awesome wooden flower stacking toy/ manipulative/block set! It's just beautiful to look at... and fun to play with too. It is slightly rough, so I think I will give it a good finishing with beeswax polish tonight after the Little One is in bed.

A has discovered many uses for this 'flower'. I love how open-ended it is. The pieces make great hills and tunnels for her little Plan Toys cars. And also great chairs, beds and cradles for her doll house dolls. She also just likes to carry the pieces around and talk to them--"oh, it's okay... I'll carry you. Oh, oh my! Come with Mama" I love listening to the narrative that she's adding more and more to her play.
She also got this really cool Dolphin Balancing game. You can see it in action here (a little blurry, sorry- it was rocking back and forth). She does play with it with the pieces, as intended, but mostly she just loves the wooden dolphin. It's entered the ranks of her entourage of animals, which accompany her everywhere (in the house at least). Last night the dolphin slept in her bed:)
We also bought some stockmar watercolors and a painting board for some wet-on-wet watercolor painting. We'll probably give that a shot this afternoon- so expect pictures later :)

I must admit, I am enjoying these toys at least as much as A... perhaps more, lol.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Have $30 ?? You can help change a woman's life...

Earlier this week, I came across this post over at One Hook Wonder. It speaks of the horrors currently going on in the Darfur region of Sudan. I realize this is not news to most. We've all heard of the pain and suffering- the villages where 100% of the women and girls have been raped, the men and boys killed, the extreme poverty, starvation, warfare and despair. I've discussed and lamented the situation with others, I've signed petitions, worn bracelets. But, there's a new image of the suffering burned into my psyche that's called me to further action.

There are babies dying of starvation and dehydration because their mothers' breast have been purposely burned so they can no longer breastfeed them.

Perhaps it is the fact that I have birthed and fed at my breast my own baby, that allows me to see, afresh, the pain these mothers are enduring. The evil that is being perpetrated against them.
Sadly, when these women and children reach the refugee camps, they still aren't out of danger. In order to feed their families, the women and girls, must leave the camp to find firewood for their cooking fires. When they leave the camp, they are often (even the young girls, mind you) raped.

So, what can we do? Well, aside from pressuring our elected officials to take action, we can supply these women with solar cookers, so they can stay within the relative safety of the refugee camp and still feed their families. Jewish World Watch has a relief project set up to do just that. $30 buys two cookers, two pots, two pot holders and skills training for the women in the refugee camp. Please take a look at the website, and if so moved, think about donating.

It's Pete's and I's goal for the year to make a charitable contribution for a cause we believe in each month. So, we begin in January, here, with the Solar Cooker Project. We hope you don't mind, as we share with you each month, the causes/relief groups that speak to us. We hope too, that you'll likewise share with us that which moves you to action.

Monday, January 26, 2009

hop on over too....

The Crafty Crow for some really happy giveaways! A child's messenger bag, cool valentines and some really yummy Japanese fabric.
Also a lot of cool bird feeder ideas to make with the kiddos.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

She's growing up...

She has enough hair for a ponytail... barely.

Yesterday morning we began the process of visiting preschools for the fall. We went to the one yesterday, and have another open house next weekend. (Apparently you have to choose a school and apply in January, if you want any hope of getting a spot for the fall) I had a flash forward moment of taking Aurora to visit colleges. It was pretty bittersweet.

Loved the preschool. It's only a few blocks away, so we could walk. It's a mixed age class- love that. The teachers are all super dedicated and been there for like 20 yrs- great. And it reminded me so much of my beloved St. Mark, where I used to work. Very child centered and child led. NAEYC accredited, too. Very nice, natural outdoor space with mature trees. Aurora loved it too- she had a blast (Which settled any doubts I had of whether she was actually ready for preschool).

All great... except that it's a 5 day only program, and we're really only looking to send her 2, maybe 3 days a week.

I still can't believe she'll be old enough for preschool this fall.
Time is flying..

Monday, January 19, 2009

Perfect for a Cold Winter's Night

Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

I thought I'd share one of our favorite crockpot soups since the weather right now pretty much demands a warm, hearty, soul satisfying soup such as this one. It's pretty work intensive in the beginning, at least compared to other crockpot favorites perhaps, -- lots of chopping etc-- but the pay off - a home smelling so scrumptious all day- is certainly worth it, in my opinion.
Auora, always at my side in the kitchen, did lots of 'helping', including peeling the carrots and pouring everything into the crock. She was very interessted in the butternut squash, kept calling it melon and trying to eat pieces. The ingredients, as you can see, lend themselves nicely to a discussion about color. Perhaps with an older child, you could note that the colors are also that of the Irish flag, and then dig out the encyclopedia (or hop on google, lol) for a lesson on national flags. The garam masala called for in the recipe lends lots of flavor with out a lot of heat- just right for the little ones in the family.

So, now the recipe:
1 Cup dry lentils
2.5 Cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped carrot
1/2 Cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced, as preference
1 tsp (we use 1.5 to 2 tsp) Garam Masala
4 Cups Chicken broth

1. Rinse and drain lentils. In Crockpot combine first 5 ingredients. Sprinkle garilc and garam masala over. Pour broth over all.
2. Cover and Cook (crockpot) on Low 8-9 hours, or High 4-4.5 hours.

By the way, the bread pictured is Tassajara yeasted bread from the Tassajara bread book. Our first attempt. It wasn't bad, but I think I'll add a bit more salt and a tad bit more sweetner next time around. It does taste good toasted with nutella though ;) 100% whole wheat bread makes nutella a healthy snack, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

random cuteness....

Explaining the virtues of a Montessori education to Turtle

Because Mickey ears and sparkly ballet shoes always go together, no matter the occasion.

Doesn't everyone play the xylophone with their feet?

With Maddie at Jungle Jim's, an indoor playspace.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Give aways!

The Crafty Crow has some great give aways today- 3 actually. Head on over and check them out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Homemaking

Here are some things I'm loving today:

This apron, a late Christmas present (Pete and I agreed to set aside a little mad money for me to use on Etsy as my gift)to myself, purchased from Boojiboo on Etsy. I. Love. This. Apron. It's easier to wash dishes wearing an apron this beautiful. It really is. I put it on in the morning and it keeps me going all day.
Also from Etsy, from Maine Woods Yarn this time, a beautiful drop spindle kit. It came with both top and bottom whorl spindles, beautiful hand dyed roving and some undyed merino roving to practice on. You can see the undyed roving, my first attempt at spinning, on the bottom whorl spindle below. Sorry about the picture quality. I am very excited about this!!! Although, it is a bit harder than I expected. Thank God for You Tube tutorials.

For my birthday, my grandmother had given me a gift card to Macy's. Unfortunately, my two year old doesn't seem to appreciate all the beautiful things at Macy's, making shopping with her quite difficult (she knows that there is a pet store at the mall, and she wants to see those puppies, like, now). So, when Pete finished the semester in December, I still had the gift card in my wallet, and off to Macy's I went-- toddler free.
I got this beautiful Martha Stewart 7-qt enameled cast iron dutch oven.
In which, pictured, are the beginnings of a very yummy tomato sauce (thank you Jamie Oliver),
which became this very yummy pasta al forno con pomodori that Pete and I enjoyed (and Aurora refused to touch) for dinner last night.
I also used the gift card to get a yogurt maker, which experimenting with has proven to be much fun. Here you see the fruits of my first attempt-- Lemon Curd and Blackberry. Both were very yummy, though I prefer the lemon.

You can also see, that I need a better camera. Or to improve my photography skills. Or both :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quick and Easy- bringing a book to life

A favorite book in this house is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.
I made this very quick and easy palm tree, inspired by Lois Ehlert's illustrations, out of felt with the intention of making a whole felt board story. After finding out that my Sizzix machine doesn't cut felt quite as well as I thought it would, the project got put on hold, as hand cutting all the letters wasn't very appealing in the Pre-Christmas crafting rush. Then Aurora got this Melissa and Doug wooden magnetic letter set. Perfect! I put it up on the fridge with a bit of double sided tape and it's been getting a lot of use since then! I know they have felt already adheared to magnetic sheets at the craft store-- I think I may remake it, and also include the sun and moon to complete the story.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Imaginary Play : a sailboat

Constructed with the pull out bin from her playtable, cardboard brick blocks for the mast and a playsilk for the sail.
Anchors Away!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a bit of Montessori

So, Pete and I have been reading into/researching Montessori education a little bit more. And have found quite a bit that we agree with. There's a lot that we love about Waldorf -mainly the emphasis on nature and rhythms- but it's not a perfect match for us as a family or for Aurora. While I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of play for young children, I also believe that more formal 'learning' has it's place as well. Montessori alone isn't a perfect match either -we love the practical life skills, emphasis on independence, more traditional academics ect..., but feel it is lacking somewhat in imaginary play and the creative arts. A combination of the two, however, fits our family nicely I think.

Here's Aurora doing some of her 'work' (she loves doing her work, by the way, and will do almost anything if you call it work or a job).
Transferring lentils from one bowl to another with a spoon:

Vacuuming up her room (she later did the living room and helped sweep the kitchen)
I've been pretty amazed at the level of concentration she employs when doing her tasks. She worked hard at the lentil transfer activity- and got each and every one- she figured out to tip the bowl as it started to empty, and if she spilt a couple she put them back on her spoon and continued. Everything we've read has talked about this- the deep and extended concentration, respect for the materials and activity at hand when it's presented as work, the confidence (which you can clearly see in her eyes in the first picture) that builds as they complete a 'job'- but I've been surprised to see so much of it in my two year old.

So, we've got more books requested from Yale and the collegiate inter library loan, both Montessori and Waldorf. I think it will be a happy blend.