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Once you get the taste of the rewarding feeling of handmade, you can get easily hooked.  And toymaking is no exceptions.  I can spend hours looking at the most beautiful toys made by the Europeean compagnies, and truly they are absolutely magnificent and are a joy to own.  But they are also quite spendy, and truth be told, no matter how beautiful they are, they take space, and having too much is no better then having too much of something else, it does become clutter!  (Yes, you can clutter your house with beautiful Waldorf type toys!)

Peanut is really playing with her doll lately.  It is part of every day for her.  And she has been sleeping her in the most unsual little corner of our house:  the laundry basket, a bookshelf, in the pot cupboard…so it made me think that this wonderful doll of hers had no spaces of her own to sleep.  I pondered over getting a wooden bed, but finally choose to make something for her: it would cost less, and take less space, and well, would be made with mommy love.

I tried to get the best idea for this bed, and finally came up with something amazing!  A hammock.  We love hammocks here, and try to enjoy them as much as possible when the hotter seasons are around.  But why not treat her doll for an all year round hammock bed?

And so DD’s doll’s bed was created:

I made the hammock with some cascade yarn and gigantic needles (broomstick knitting anyone?).

I hung the hammock with a tree branch that we found in our yard.  Pea and I sanded it as a surprise for Peanut.

then a little rainbow of silk is in order to keep Doll warm

and some birds to lull her into sleep;

and that was all Peanut needed for some more magical playtime.

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I have just finished to read this book:

It has been on my amazon wish list for such a long time, and for some reason, I kept putting off buying it.

I read Simplicity parenting before, a super interesting book by Kim John Payne, and loved it.  ( and highly recommend it)

It discusses simplicity with young children, with a Waldorf point of view, so I was not convinced that I would be able to really find something different enough to justify buying it.  Well, I finally took the plunge, and I am SO glad that I did.

I feel like this book tackles a bit more topics then Simplicity parenting.  Or should I say complement.  There are so many valuable advises that I took from SP, but I was able to add or reinforce some other topics with Living simply with children.  The topic of school, money, environement, things that I don’t recall reading in SP.  There is also a wealth of informations, links, ressources and all at the end of each chapters so if you feel the need to deepen your knowledge on one topic, it is rather easy to do.

The author really loves the book “your money or your life” and mentionnes it many times through out the book.  I might give it a look eventually.

I love how she stresses that simple living is not something you do because you are poor or can make it, but because you make a choice.  Or should I say CHOICES.  You have to decide what are your priorities, where do you want to go, and what is the best route to get there.  If things are for you, you need to work, and thus get less time.  But if you rather time and relationships, then forget the things, and get the time.

My thoughts and conclusion after ready this book:

It is crazy how the arrival of children in your life make you reconsider many things, your way of living, your values… I guess we call this grow.  This is something that has happened with the arrival of both my child and is happenning again this time around.  I feel like at every preparation for this new arrival, I did a step further in a direction, and I am realizing that this direction has not changed since the beginning of this.  I am just walking deeper into a road that seem to uncover itself as I go, and as our lives changes.  I don’t think there is an ending destination, I think it is the journey that matters.  But that journey really is rooted in simplicity for me.  Everytime I started to feel overwhelemed or just bad (not being able to define what was going on), something happened that made me simplify more, and suddenly, things started to make sense again.

Simplicity comes easily, anytime, and just feel so good to me, to us…

I am realising, after putting down this book, that materialism is really something I am struggling with.  I really feel a weight with material possessions, and feel just so much lighter when not in a” owning” state of mind.  I was scared to have kids, because the vision I had of childhood is the one that is promoted by commercial and the materialistic world we live in.  Comes with a child tons of stuff and that scared me.  I didn’t want to go through this.  And yet, we had a kid, and entered this world of consumerism, and god did that not feel good.  I hate that people around me would somehow decide how our lifes would be by getting us what they thought was useful for a baby:  mobile with lights and music, plastic toys, musical toys and so on.  But after some much soul searching, and reading, and surfing, I found that there is another way to live and there are other things that can be done then just stick to the images that we see everywhere of what life and childhood should be.

First thing to do: close the TV!

And then follow your heart and your soul.

Yes, I am currently in a journey of change, and our way of life has tremendously changed in the last five years.  We have tried stuff, made mistake, tried other things, took some wrong turns, and now are trying to become what our family is by picking what resonates with us.

Although I have said not so long ago how Waldorf did not resonate all that much with us, I have to retract that. When I first started to research Waldorf, I read a lot, and was influenced by the forums at Mothering.com.  So I was exposed to the outside world of Waldorf, the one that is being more and more popular right now: the beautiful toys notably.  And while I DO NOT want to bash in any ways the wonderful posters over there, I feel like materialism is a common trend that kinda turned me off.  We are, therefore, currently living deep into many of the Montessori principles since my son attend a Montessori preschool and is so happy in this environement, but there also, I felt the burden of materialism weighing on me when thinking about using this as homeschooling method.

But after the rain, the sun always comes out!

But recently, I have found something else. I was searching for a post by a wonderful mama about bedtime  where she was linking me to her blog.  And gosh did I love what  I read.  I wasn’t aware at the time that she was Waldorf or anything, I just loved the ideas and the feel of that post.  I went back to it about 2-3 weeks ago, and then my curiosity was piqued seing that she also had so many things to say about Waldorf, things that were way further from the best toys, the necessary items, basically, nothing that had to do with owning things, but rather living Waldorf.  And in one of her post, I stumbled about a yahoo group adress: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorfhomeeducators/?yguid=301863949  where she claimed there was many articles about Waldorf that were really a must to read.  Being the curious person that I am, I HAd to go and see.

And I have to agree.  I have found so many things that totally resonates with me.  Many that adresses the dangers of materialism, of commercialism, of TV and everything that comes with it.

Yesterday, I was meditating on the topic of newborns.  MY soon to be newborn.  What does he really need?  Does he really need “things”?  And giving a quick look in the file section, I found an article written a couple of years ago by the owner of the list.  I would love to share this part of the article with you:

Soon, though, within perhaps minutes, the weight of materialism beings to exert itself into the realm of the child:  possessions and objects. Humanity does bear the burden of both consumerism and clever mass production capacities.  We overflow with things, we drown in stuff, we wade through our homes and garages and sheds and attics and basements and storage spaces and barns and warehouses and containers and malls and giant cargo ships, with closets, drawers, and shelves overflowing with physical matter.”

“Well intended parents and relatives stock these rooms with every imaginable beautiful “natural” toys.  Hand carved wooden animals fill barns, needle felted villagers populate oak-tree dwellings, handmade dolls with exquisite clothing lie in bunk beds, and china tea sets rest on hand spun plant dyed organic cotton placemats!  Dozens of toys line the shelves and floor.  Can the young spirit breathe in this space?  What can unfold in the inner realms when surrounded by a plethora of objects, colors, shapes, forms, sensory impressions?

In this light, then, if you provide the child with hardened images, and objects, in your home or classroom, then you rob the child of this important venue of spiritual education, one that begins at birth…

Even in the Waldorf world, materialism raises its head with the advent of professionally produced ‘toys’ and products, aimed at capturing the market share of the ‘natural market’.  Homes and classes filled with ‘made’ objects or ‘made’ ideas, are offering hardened thinking to the children, no matter how beautiful or gloriously created these items are. These objects are designed to appeal to us, to the adults, who yearn for the days when a simple stick could be literally anything.  We need and admire these beautiful creations, much more than the child under age seven does…

Nature tables are becoming filled with human-manufactured objects, pushing aside the plants, leaves, wood, and stones.  …”

Written by Marsha Johnson

And that.  That article, really made me think through the night (while baby was obviously having a gymnastic class in there…)  it lifted a veil over Waldorf, one that I was not fond of.

I am still unsure what route we’ll be using when comes the “pedagogy” times.  But I feel like I have seen something that I can really relate to. The more I am reading about the less known sides of waldorf, the more interested I am in reading some more.  There are things that I don’t relate to, and that don’t resonate with me.  But I am grateful to have the time to learn, and read and try!  Isn’t this fantastic to have the time to try, and to feel how this and that makes us feel?  It is the best way to truly find what you are, to customize your life the way you want, and not being dictated what you should think and do and have!.  Trying, making mistakes, trying again, and then knowing.

I will continue to make mistakes and learn, and while all that, I am confident that I will find my path, the one I am supposed to be on.  And there is one thing I know, simplicity and simple living, is part of it.

Yes, I am nesting big time.  But I think whoever is out there over us designed this period to give us the chance to change and find a new path, one we should be on.  I am all ears!

We have been in a celebrating mode since the weekend.  First, my nephew’s christening, and today was DD’s bday 🙂

It was a beautiful day full of activities and new and old traditions.

The new ones

Her crown that I managed to finish last night while listening to a Waldorf expo workshop!

She loved the crown, and waking up to this table.  I loved how it unfolded the day, and for sure this will be carried on to the following years!

The old traditions…family times

She wanted to go pick strawberries!

And then some quiet snuggle time

And a time to remember that she is still so little

But yet growing up…

And what better way to celebrate then with chocolate cake…and freshly picked strawberries 🙂

as well as new slippers

We ended up the day with the story of the Princess and the pea.  She was so tired that she almost fell asleep while I was reading.

I love how this day was a celebration, and yet at the same time a family time, and a peaceful time.  I felt like this day was breathing in and out, following a pattern…moving, and slowing down.  Nothing like the big birthday parties with favors and gift giving and overwhelming activities…and you know, I didn’t miss it a second.  And frankly, I don’t think DD missed it either 😉

I have recently signed up for the Waldorf connection expo.  They are speakers that speaks about a part of the Waldorf education/philosophy.  I have hear some very interesting lectures on waldorf education, and I feel like I still, at this point,  have some things to get from Waldorf to incorporate in our lives.

One of the speaker was Tammy Takahashi, author of the blog Just enough and nothing more, and of the book Deschooling gently.  Her speach was not focus on Waldorf education, but rather on homeschooling.  Wow, was this lecture interesting, and really made me think about HOW to homeschool.  Many questions were arised, and answered, or at least direction were given to find your own answer.  But one point was brought up that I am still chewing on right now:

Homeschooling, is not the same as having school at home

I have been repeating this many times a day since having heard this.  Homeschooling is NOT the same as having school at home.

Tammy was saying how when she started to homeschool, she basically brought school at home.  She had it all, letter on the wall, blackboards, and even a bell for recess!  And one comment that arised from that was, “you might as well just let them go to school if you are to bring school at home”

And that has me thinking since.

We have the advantage of being in a house, and living in a home setting, why not use this to our advantage?  Why try to creat a school within the house?  I know Maria Montessori really described what are the actions that should be performed by a “teacher” and how to do, and react, and what the environement should be.  But then, this was described with a school setting in mind, and not for a home.  I wonder what she would have suggested for homeschooling parents.  I was writing a little while ago about anxiety, how I felt when I went back to our school room because I felt like I was not up to the standards that were set by Dr Montessori.  And this feeling of anxiety always passes upon me when I go to our school room, without me knowing exactly why I feel that way.

And then I got it with the rest of the presentation that Tammy gave.  She wrote a book on Descholing gently.  And at first, I was not sure how this would be relevent for me since my kids have not really been schooled, aside from the experience Pea has with Montessori.  And so I wasn’t sure how I could help with by “deschooling” him.  But honnestly, the deschooling program is more for me, for us, parents, that have been living in the standard schooling systems for too long.  We are used to seeing school and learning as being done in a setting, with a blackboard, chalk, bells, and everything that comes with it.  We have been brainwashed that way.  But looking at both my children, they have both learned to walk, talk, count, and do oh so many other things without the use of a blackboard, and a classroom. They did it on their own, with the influence of us, parents, in an environement that promoted that.  For everything else that needs to be learned, do I really need a school room?

Do I really want a school within my house, or a house where my child learn?

I stumbled on a great post by Meg at Sewliberated where she was presenting her house, and all the nooks and crannies that she created for her son.  What better environment to learn?  Learning then takes place everywhere, not only in a confined place, learning just become what it is supposed to be, integrated in one’s life, and not a special activity that needs a room and a blackboard.

After hearing this conference, I admitted to myself that I am still strongly influenced by my experience of being in a compulsory school environment.  And my mind is still not free from this brainwashing that I went though.  I still realize that eventhough I want to provide my kids with another type of education, I am still roaming in my thoughts within the boundary of my imagination as they were defined and set by the constrictive school system that states:  “School should be that way, and you have to learn that way’  I need to let go of all this, and just expend my imagination, broaden my horizons and see all the potential that learning in the home can allow.

I had a chance to go thrifting last week.  And although the thrifting fairies were definetly not with me that day, I still managed to find a few books for Pea and Peanut.  One of them was Rumplestiltskin, a fairy tale that *gasp* I didn’t even know about!

Once arriving from the thrift store, they both saw that small pile of book I had brought home, and Pea immidiatly asked me to read this particular story.  I even read it twice, he was really interested in this story.

A few days later, we were all sitting in the living room, and Pea got the interlocking blocks out.  He asked me to help him build a house, and he really looked like he had an idea of what he wanted to do, but didn’t know how to do it.   He asked me to do a circle with the block, but with only one row of blocks.  And then he proceeded to add some blocks in the middle.  I had no clue where he was going with that, until he told me, “I am done”  and he got up, went to the book shelve, got Rumplestiltskin out, and turned to the last page.

the image he had in his head and was trying to make real was the one that really had struck him the most in the story.  The fact that Rumplestiltskin had broken the floor by being mad, and falling in the hole he made for himself.

They always find a way to amaze me.  But never the way I would have thought!

which was much needed.

I have been very busy trying to get ready for homeschooling, and preparing everything for the olders once the baby gets here.  I can feel a shift in my mood recently where I feel like it is time to plan and get ready for the newer…  I think this shift is happening all by itself while I find myself being more and more ready as far as work and projects for DD and DS.

I can certainly feel the nesting effect slowly starting to make it’s way in my daily activity.  I have been cleaning, and rearranging, and sorting, and purging…although maybe the arrival of spring has something to do with it…

A quick trip to Ikea really helped to ease the effect for a few days, but really that is it.  I can feel it coming full force again today

I am also feeling strongly drawn back to my first loves as far as creating (although making Montessori material is fun, I still have a deeper love for knitting and sewing…).  I got out the scarf I have been working on for a while, that was *almost* forgotten in my WIP drawer.

And while that, the kids have the time to rediscover their barn and have a few minutes to just let their imagination run wild.

But I can see that toys is not their thing.  They like the real world, learning about everything, touching everything, making art projects.  Untoys are still much more interesting to them, and have always been. And I don’t have to look very far to find them some material.  They find it by themselves, and create whatever they want to with it.

They have a sweet spot for this farm, but I think they do because they have been on a farm a couple of time, able to help, touch, see, and this is what makes it interesting.  In fact, DS was commenting this morning that there are no farm persons to go with the farm…  Good things his b-day is comming.

Unfortunatly though, the end of semester is almost here.  And I can see that the next few weeks will be really crazy with corrections mostly.  So this pause in time before the end rush is a necessary balance, and I plan to enjoy it as much as I can until I no longer can…