Monday, September 29, 2014

Battling Dragons

Today is Michaelmas.  If you are unsure what this festival is all about, click here.  When I became interested in Waldorf Education, one of the things I loved most was the emphasis placed on seasonal festivals and celebrations.  Being raised Catholic, I was taught to pray to many Saints and St. Michael the Archangel has always been one of my favorites.  St. Michael is the Patron Saint of Police Officers and being the daughter of a NYPD Inspector and a family of NYPD officers, this angel represented protection for our family.

Waldorf festivals are so beautiful.  They are not just celebrated externally but internally.  For Michaelmas, we are asked to search deep within to discover our innermost dragons and demons and pull from ourselves the courage we need to win our hardest battles.  These deep thoughts are not brought to young children in the Waldorf classroom but messages of bravery and triumph over evil are.  It's all a very beautiful spiritual process that I have always been drawn to.

If I am honest, however, although I have written a large selection of Curriculum and Festival Books - I struggle myself with remembering to celebrate and work on these things in my own life.

Waldorf families all over may be making their dragon bread (a fun tradition) this week or participating in their Waldorf schools Michaelmas Festivals.

Dragon Bready by Vanessa Mitchell Kohlhaas
I was lucky to squeeze out this little activity with my girls from our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book, Nature's Dragons... but that's about it so far.

We haven't baked in forever, my house is a mess and I've got a list a mile long of things that I'm not sure I will ever get to!  As I was sitting here trying to write an inspirational post for my Waldorf followers on how to celebrate the day, I realized that I needed to be honest that my own family has no celebration planned at all.  :) 

But the day did bring me to think about battling those dragons.  Lately, I have many I'm trying to conquer and sometimes I feel as if so much progress has been unraveled as I see myself struggling with  many of the same issues over and over again that I thought I had somewhat figured out. 

If this year we do not get around to baking our dragon bread, I at least want to take some time to look within.  

“It is the renewal of the whole human 
disposition of heart and soul that 
should be celebrated at Michaelmas—
not as an outward or conventional 
ceremony, but as a festival which 
renews us wholly and inwardly.” 

~Rudolf Steiner, extract from a lecture 
given in Stuttgart on 5 October, 1923

Hmmmm I could use some renewal.  In my work life, personal life and home.  I find this time of year I'm always feeling like I'm on a hamster wheel and not getting to where I need to be.  

From our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas E-Book Caregiver Meditation:  

"At this time of year, the turning seasons remind us to slow down, come home, warm up, and 
consider. We are happier to look inward in the autumn and winter than we were during the 
summer months when we were busy living and doing. When we turn our attention inward, we 
can see our own inner dragons waiting for us there. They deserve our attention again because 
they've been patient—even faithful—waiting for us to remember them. Our dragons are our 
fears, insecurities, failings, worries, and procrastinations. And they have much to teach us. In a 
way, our dragons keep us honest."

For those of you who could use a little help celebrating this week or digging deeper into yourself like me, I am offering a 6 hour 50% off sale of our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book at Little Acorn Learning.  From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST today only - the e-book is only $12.49.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Michael's Sword Napkin Holders for Michaelmas

Do you know what Michaelmas is?  If you are not familiar with Waldorf Education, this mysterious Fall Festival may not be something you are familiar with.  

From our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book:

"The significance of the Michaelmas festival in Waldorf schools is seen in the story of a simple boy, who acts out of bravery and righteousness on behalf of others, can overcome fear and darkness. Light must be honored and respected, and can be the greatest weapon we possess in the face of frightening challenges. The older children are taught that we all have within us a dark side, and that we must acknowledge it, learn to control it, and not act out of our destructive emotions. Our dark sides can be a source of strength, inspiration, power, creativity, and mystery—but they must be balanced and harnessed by the light for us to live healthy, happy lives and do good in the world."

From Wikipedia:

"Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (also the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Western Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. In medieval England, Michaelmas marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman's year, George C. Homans observes: "at that time harvest was over, and the bailiff orreeve of the manor would be making out the accounts for the year."

The Archangel Michael is the greatest of all the Archangels and is honored for defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven. He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes as well, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland as one of the quarter days."

Here is a really sweet way to celebrate this fun festival in your home or school.  Head on over to Love in the Suburbs to get a free tutorial on how to make Michael's Sword Napkin Holders from our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival e-book!  

This e-book is 133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the beautiful Fall Festivals of Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas in your home or school!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn Equinox Coloring Page and Planning Sheet

Here is a special little freebie to help you celebrate the Autumn Equinox with your children!  Thank you to Ancient Amber, author of many sweet little books that you can Check Out Here for this special gift to our Little Acorn Families.  Enjoy these by right clicking the images and saving 'as' to your computer.  We would LOVE to see your child's finished coloring pages.  Be sure to email us photos at info (at) so we can share it with our audience. xoxo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Changing with the Season

My favorite season is approaching and the weather in Connecticut has shifted to cool temperatures this past week and I love it.  The girls are back to school and I am working hard to create some sort of a rhythm in my work and home life.  I always find that this time of year is a time of preparation and organization.

I have made a commitment to get my home more organized and work on my writing career full time.  So for the past week, I've been sorting through files and books, creating an office space and allocating a certain amount of time each day to work.  It's difficult working from home as it demands a lot of discipline and I get easily distracted.

With autumn on it's way, I find a new love for the work I do with Little Acorn Learning.  I love photographing and writing about how children and families can celebrate the beautiful seasons together.  Living in New England is such a gift as we get four distinct seasons to enjoy.

In addition to the cool temperatures this week, my pumpkins have been ripening in the garden.  This is always really exciting and we are hoping to get one just a bit bigger for our carving pumpkin.  There are two or three more on the vines that I'm hoping get pretty big before Halloween.  We will see how they do.

Our garden has done pretty well this summer.  Considering that the girls and I traveled a lot, it was good.  I still hope to do better next year and get more yield.  But it's fun and I think it is really important to teach the girls where their food comes from.  When you grow it yourself, you don't waste because you realize how much time and effort went into it. 

As autumn approaches, I thought I would share some of our favorite children's books this time of year.  In both the 5 day and Enrichment guides at Little Acorn Learning, we offer tons of book recommendations for each and every week of the month.  Here are just a few that we love:

Telling stories and sharing poems of the season is a simple way to encourage literacy skills in the home for all ages.  I still read to my 10 year old!  

Here are a few sweet poems you can share in the upcoming weeks as taken from our September Enrichment Guide:


Squirrel, Squirrel running around,
Bury your nut away in the ground.
Bury it deep, bury it round.
Bury it nicely into the ground.  


Little leaves fall gently down
Red and yellow, orange and brown (flutter hands as leaves falling)
Whirling Whirling around and around (turn around)
Quietly without a sound (put finger to lips)
Falling softly to the ground (begin to fall slowly)
Down and down and down and down (lie on floor)


The Rice Fields

Warmed by the sun,
Wet with the rain,
Ripe grows the rice,
Life-giving grain.
Week follows week;
Now comes the day,
Gather the rice,
Store it away.

Lastly, we have a really fun Facebook Photo Contest going on for the month of September on the Little Acorn Learning Facebook Page... 

Our theme this month is *Children in the Kitchen* and our winners will get a FREE ebook of their choice for each photo that wins!  

Photo by Dawn Umemoto
If you have photos of your little ones helping you in the kitchen, here's how to enter:

- Send no more than 3 photos per family or school correlating to our theme to

- Include your name and written permission for Little Acorn Learning to use your photo in future publications and/or marketing initiatives.  

- Once your photo is posted on our Facebook Page, ask family and friend to LIKE it by sharing the link.

- The photos with the most LIKES win a FREE ebook of their choice from Little Acorn Learning - we will end our contest on September 19th, 2014  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Blank Canvas

My creative flows come in waves.  For months, I will delve myself into painting and then just nothing at all.  For years even, things will sit.  I may sew quilts and dresses and other things for everyone and their mother.  Then a lull.  A huge one.  I'll spend a full year writing over 12 100+ page books and then struggle to even update my blog on a weekly basis.

Besides the fact that I am sure I have some form of ADHD, I'm not really sure why this happens.  I guess there are just so many things I love to do and there is no way to do them all at once. And, to be honest, just daily life is so overwhelming for me at times.  I could spend hours each day cleaning our house.  It's consuming.  And boring and not fulfilling.

And lately, as I've been going through the motions of life and many things internally, I realize that so much of what I enjoy doing has been put on the side for way too long.  My passions, my dreams and my creative time is almost always pushed aside to make room for other things or other people.  They are very important other things and many very important people (many not!)... but I'm losing who I am in the process and in order to feel whole again, I need to get it back.

So, I'm trying - slowly - to get back into the things I love to do.  Much like writer's block, starting again with any creative activity isn't easy for me.  I look at my sewing machine or my paints and feel panic, not knowing where to begin.  And it would be so easy to just turn around and walk out of the room and do some mindless laundry instead (and my husband would be thrilled), but I am determined.  :)

Brianna and Maia have been asking for me to sew them something.  We decided that I would make them each a dress (in the same pattern and size to keep me sane).  So, last week we went and picked out the pattern and the fabric they wanted.

They were so excited helping me look and pick out everything.  I know from experience that these years with them go so fast and soon they will care less about having their mom make them something.  There is a small window of time I have with them in this way and I don't want to lose it because I have too much laundry to do.

But even with such good intentions, the materials sat and sat in my sewing room.  They were getting pulled into the creative abyss that seems to be lingering around me these last few years, but last night (partially out of guilt), I pulled it out and began cutting the pattern.

And I realized how much I really like sewing and how much I miss it.  It's just a matter of finding the will and the time to begin again.

Then there is my artwork, I miss spending hours on a piece and pouring my feelings and colors into a blank canvas.  I bought five canvases a year or so ago and they have been sitting in my art area just collecting dust.  The same art area that I envisioned being this booming art studio in my house.  There was a time that I even sold a few paintings - it was exciting and something I wanted to pursue.  Oh but life, it seems to get in the way.

So after my sewing epiphany last night, I decided that even though it felt hard to begin again, I would.  I sketched out some strange people who will soon get filled up with my feelings, emotions and some colors and God, it felt awesome.

So, I'm excited to navigate my way once again through being a mother and a wife but also a writer, an artist and the creative person that I am.

There just may be no clean clothes or dishes in my house for awhile.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nature as the Classroom

It's back-to-school time and at Little Acorn Learning, we like to see our community teaching their children outdoors!

Show us photos of your children learning in nature to inspire others to move their classrooms outside this year!  Here's the info:

This Month's  Facebook Photo Contest theme is...

*Nature as the Classroom*
It's time for the August Facebook Photo Contest from Little Acorn Learning!!!!

This month's theme for back-to-school time is 
**Nature as the Classroom**

Our winners will receive a free e-book of their choice from Little Acorn Learning

How to enter to win:

-Send no more than 3 photos per family or school correlating to our theme(s) to

-Include your name and written permission for Little Acorn Learning to use your photo in future publications or marketing.

-Once your photo is posted on our Facebook Page, ask family and friends to LIKE it by sharing the link.

-The photos with the most LIKES win a FREE ebook of their choice from Little Acorn Learning - we will end our contest on August 20th, 2014

Good luck!!!!
Please do not post photos on our Facebook Group Page as they get lost and do not get put in the correct album for voting. of luck!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Abundance and Letting Go : Slow Summer Series

This is one of those posts where I have so many different things to share and will struggle a bit to make it flow together ok.  Our summer has been sweet and slow.  We've enjoyed watching our garden grow and surprise us.  Different fruits and vegetables popping up each day and some traveling on vines to grow in unintended spaces.  The girls have been very good minus some sibling arguments that are to be expected.

This past week we also had two special birthdays to celebrate.  My grandmother would have been 100 years old.
She's been gone since 1995 but it was one of the most heartbreaking goodbyes of my life.  It is rare to find another soul that you connect with in the way that my grandmother and I did.  It was so easy flowing and full of so much love and kindness.  I miss her every day and crave that type of relationship in my life again. I have to admit they come few and far between, those magical connections.  I wish she were able to meet my daughters and watched my life unfold.

On her birthday, Bree asked me to go buy a balloon in my grandmother's favorite color.  Her favorite color was gold.  I always found that to be so interesting and I remember her house decorated with gold accents as a little girl.  I figured Bree wanted something to connect with so she could relate to my sadness.  But, when we got home, off she went and came back with this beautiful card and a flower.  She asked me if we could send it up to heaven.  So we did.  And, with Brianna holding my hand the entire time, we watched it for at least 30 minutes as it went higher and higher.  I swear it seemed like it really was going to her and it made me happy.  And I realized how blessed I am to have children in my life who are so gentle and connected to me, just the way my grandmother was.

My mother, my aunt and I named our new beach home after my grandma.  This week we put the sign up.

It was also Maia's 10th birthday this week.  Two days before my grandmother's.  I imagine them celebrating together in my mind sometimes.  In spirit, I did feel her presence as we celebrated Maia and all that she is.  And Maia *is* so much....

Lastly, Keira and Maia went off to sleepaway camp for the first time this year.  I felt Maia was too young but she insisted on it and knowing that her sister would be with her, I reluctantly agreed.  Life is a series of letting gos and this one wasn't any easier than the others I have experienced.  I remember sending Dee off to camp for the first time too.  

So, here I wait for them anxiously to come home and tell me all about their new experiences and found independence.  A part of me cries inside as I watch them grow up and away and a part of me rejoices for the strong, beautiful and capable young ladies they are becoming.  

And I will hold my breath until the next bittersweet moment.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reclaiming the Village

"It takes a village to raise a child."

But what happens if there is no village?
Photographer - Amy Figley
In our car-dependent world, it can be much harder to know your neighbors than I'm sure it was back when walking to school, to the store and to work were the daily modes of transportation.  

Even in urban areas now, people walk by one another but they are tuned out.  Their ears are plugged up with IPods, their eyes are fixed on IPhones and their minds are occupied with IWants.  No longer are we focused on the common "we"... just a whole bunch of "I"s.

Then throw in a heavy dose of fear to keep children locked up inside houses playing video games instead of exploring and you have us all living together, in isolation.

When is the last time you were able to borrow eggs from your neighbor when you ran out?

Speaking of neighbors, do you know yours?  Do you know their names?  Their children?  Their lives?

Do they know you?

Photographer - Janie Mote
Are you alone in "the village"?  Most of us are.

I am not posting this to make any of us feel guilty.  And, I know I'm using a hard tone but I want your attention:

Times are different now, yes... but *not* because crime is higher or people work harder.  Times are different because we have allowed it to become that way.  There is nobody to blame for the fall and crumble of our villages but ourselves and I am here asking you to help rebuild them.

I'm not trying to pretend that we can create little utopias across the planet free of crime and filled with beautiful people holding hands and singing "Kumbaya".  I know, firsthand, the challenges of people living in inner-cities and other places that are far from the Sesame Street we grew up watching on TV.

However, I am trying to tell you that any attempt at joining forces to make your neighborhood a better place will do just that.... make it a better place.  I'm not saying it will fix it... or make it perfect... just better.  And we could all use a little better.  It's better than nothing.

I also know there will be neighbors who are not the types of individuals that you want to be neighborly with or want your families around.  Some may even be a true concern.  But, isn't this even MORE of a reason to create a network of other like-minded people who live in close proximity to you?  Isn't there safety in numbers?  Isolation does nothing to solve these issues.  Let's join forces to take back our streets.

I am asking you do to something for me.  But, first, I want you to imagine....

Imagine a place to live where you know everybody's name (sound like Cheers?  stick with me...).  Where your children are watched over not only by you but by others who care about them and know who they are.  What could that do to the choices some children make?  Could it create change?

Imagine a place where you and your family know you have plenty of people to call in case of an emergency; a place where you look out for one another and call upon each other, rather than a number in the yellow pages, when you need help.

Imagine sharing skills and friendship with others right outside your front door. Imagine a place where you know people's struggles and you help ease their burden.  Where you get the same in return.

Imagine a place filled with neighborhood friends of all ages on porches, back decks, apartment terraces and playgrounds.  Imagine your children cared for by others that you know and trust when you are not home.

Imagine not being alone anymore.

Imagine this place and then look outside your home.

It's there.  It only needs you to rebuild it.

I am asking for your support in helping me Reclaim, Rebuild and Renew our villages, one family at a time.

The first family is you.

This will require you to get out of your comfort zone, as all change begins with us first being uncomfortable but I promise you it will play a huge part in helping to change our world.

Here's how:

  • Get to know people on your road, in your apartment building or extended community.  Stop to say hello or ask a question. Be prepared at first for some people to think you are odd or annoying. Sadly, it is not commonplace to start small talk at the mailbox anymore. Do not be discouraged. Remember that is what we are trying to change. Keep on.
  • Create a neighborhood watch program. Gather a group of adults to walk the streets together, taking back what is rightfully yours and your children's. Coordinate keeping outdoor lights on at the same times each night to create a safer environment. Take turns keeping an eye on things in groups outside.
  • Build a community garden. It can be in your own yard... but ask neighborhood children and adults to help and take home vegetables. Leave a 'Free for Neighbors' box of veggies outside your home whenever you have extra.
  • Coordinate a parent group in your neighborhood and organize safe outings for children so they can get to know one another.
  • Organize a garbage clean up to make your area a cleaner place to live. 
  • Focus on the elderly in your community.  Visit them, bring them meals, mow their lawn, take them to appointments and learn from their experiences.  
Photographer - Sarah Teo
  • Barter. Tutor a child in return for landscaping help. Teach computer skills in return for car rides. What can you give?  What could you use in return? Money is not always necessary when people are willing to work together to lift each other up.  
  • Offer to teach a skill at your home or on your porch - knitting, cooking, language.
  • Start a book club with neighborhood people only.
  • If you live in an area where there is a large population that could benefit from English as a second language classes, offer them.  Create a group of people that can help one another learn to write, read and speak in a new language.  Then, in return, ask to learn their first language so you can expand your knowledge as well.
  • Schedule weekly nature walks around your home.  Invite neighbors to come along.  Get to know your outdoor landscape and space together.  Invite special visitors to speak or share insight.  
  • Start a walking club. 
  • Help new parents find relief.  Offer advice, supplies, breast feeding support and friendship.  Offer to sit in the living room and hold the baby when a new mom needs a nap.  
  • Host a small backyard music concert!  You can find others in your neighborhood who play instruments and invite them to perform or just play the radio together.
  • Think about the seasons and holidays.  Organize an Easter Egg Hunt, a Summer Party, a Bike Parade or a Trunk or Treat event in your driveways.  
  • Start a monthly mom and dads night out for neighborhood parents to get to know one another.  
  • Host movie nights indoors or on a screen outside.  
  • Consider opening up fences, creating paths to one another's homes and taking down some mental walls while still maintaining your privacy.  
  • Beautify your neighborhood together.  Plant flowers, clean up trash and debris and restore old spaces.
  • Make a neighborhood playground or take turns having children rotate backyards each day of the week after school where one parent supervises.  
  • Make a community newsletter.  Ask for contributors - writers, classifieds, events.  
  • If you own a pool, consider hosting swimming once in awhile to those who do not have the same. 
  • Put benches, picnic tables and chairs in your front yard and encourage others to do the same.  Talk to people when they walk by.  Say hello.  Move your fire pit to the front yard and invite anyone who walks by to join you! 
  • If you live in a more isolated environment, expand this community by doing the same with people from church, school or work.
  • Start an annual neighborhood block party. Take back your streets and play games, eat together and bond. 
  • Create emergency plans together.  Write it down.  Make sure everyone knows where they can go for help and who has what to offer.  Talk about fires, natural disasters and other occurrences that you can help each other with.  Consider a phone chain for emergencies.  Remember people who need extra assistance.  Be the ones they can count on.  
  • Post your neighbors phone numbers and emails on your wall and have them do the same.  When trust has been built, consider sharing house keys in case you are away or there is an emergency. 
  • Take care of your neighbors pets, plants and yard when they go away.  Be a presence in an otherwise empty home.
  • Have a community tag sale. 

I would love to add to this list and maybe eventually offer a Free EBook on this topic.  If you would like to submit an idea, please leave it in the comments section or email it to info (at)

Love breeds peace.  Create an amazing world right where you live.



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