Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Space


The colors, the crisp air and the falling leaves of this season just grab onto me and make me feel so good inside.  I notice when autumn comes, I start to pay attention a bit more to my surroundings and myself.  I just can't help but stop to look a bit more.

It's really easy to miss things around us with how busy we can be.  Simple but beautiful things can get overlooked or ignored.  Part of learning mindfulness is to slow down enough to actually enjoy and take in fully what is around us.  And one thing is for certain, I do struggle with slowing down.  I've read the books and done the meditation classes :) but it is still difficult, with my personality, to slow the pace.

The other morning I decided to just stop rushing and go to this beautiful place in my town that I have never actually walked through in my 14 years of living here.  I've always wanted to walk here but I was always too busy...



14 years too busy.  Can you imagine this place was in my backyard all this time and I have yet to enjoy it?  And if I'm too busy - so are most other people.  And how on earth can we fight to protect these beautiful open spaces if we do not even really know the details of how they exist?


I walked there alone and it isn't always easy being alone.  We can feel alone even in the midst of all we do and all the people that surround us.  I've always enjoyed my own company in the past but I think lately I've filled up my life with many things to do to avoid feelings that come up in the silence. 

To keep striving to be able to fill our own selves up without looking to outside things and people to do it for us is important.   And I have some wonderful new projects coming up that I'm so excited about... and I have so many wonderful people in my life that I want to spend time with but I have to find a balance between being busy and allowing enough open space in my life for silence.  And re-learning how to be ok with it.  

I remember back when I was a little girl, I would play for hours and hours on my own.  I was so content and at peace with being alone with myself.  The things I would create and imagine... and I didn't have to share them with anyone but me.  It was enough.  I remembered that and it made me wonder:  At what point did I become not enough for myself?   


I had the amazing experience of seeing my favorite musician live with really great friends last Thursday night.  Brett Dennen's lyrics and music really resonate so deeply with me and this was really a dream come true.   

"See when you forgive your imperfections
And you've auctioned all your clothes
And you look to see your true reflection
You will be the one who loves you the most"



It's getting cold here and we have installed a new wood stove.  I cannot wait to use it.  Today it was installed but sadly we were told that we have to fix the chimney first before we can use it.  So, hopefully we can get it going soon.  


And I can practice mindfulness and enjoy some of my own company in front of it on the cold nights to come.  (Do puppies count?  They don't say much.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Real Christopher Columbus

My 5th grader wrote this essay for school last week.  The idea that they all have a day off of school today to celebrate him is baffling.



In the textbooks they say Christopher Columbus was a good man who tried to make the natives his friends, but really he just wanted them as slaves for money.

In addition, he disobeyed the Queen and brought 1,600 natives with him as slaves even against her orders.

When Columbus returned from his voyage he lied and said that he, instead of one of his crew members, found the island first.  He got the money instead of the person who was truly responsible for discovering America.

Columbus also forced natives above the age of 14 to find and deliver gold every three months. If they found gold they got a copper badge. Any native found without a badge got their hands cut off.

When Columbus returned from his voyage, he received all sorts of rewards that he did not deserve and he was called a hero for finding land that he did not find alone.

Columbus did many horrible things and these are just a few.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Corn Mazes and Soul Sisters



I have had many friendships and relationships in my life but I can truly count on one hand my soul connections.  Do you have those?  It's different than a best friend or the moms you like to go grab a few drinks with on mom's night out.  Soul connections are different.  There is a level of connection that takes you deeper with these people.  They come far and few... they can be male or female.  

Years ago when my second oldest daughter was in Kindergarten, I met one of her friend's moms.  Instantly we just had this comfortable relationship.  And, while we do not spend time together on a regular basis.. whenever we do, it adds a layer of growth to who I am.  We've done mediation classes, yoga, long walks, tears, drinks, corn mazes and texts.  We share fully and openly and know we are loved and not judged. I'm not even sure I'm describing this well.. but there are certain people who you meet that you make you a better person for have knowing them.  They make you want to be a better person.  These people that help you grow. These are my soul connections and I can count them on one hand and they know who they are.

On Friday our kids had a half day from school and my soul sister texted out of the blue... she's going to a corn maze in two hours with the kids, can I come? 

Hell yes...



Because as fun as the corn maze is for the kids, my time with her is like a full blown therapy session each time.  I leave feeling as if I have grown and that I have someone who truly understands me, without judgement, who I can share my entire self with.

The funny thing is that we let the kids go ahead of us.  And we got so entrenched in conversation... and we walked and we talked...

And we forgot to look at our map.  But the talking was so good.  And so helpful... and full.   So we talked and we walked.  In circles.  

Until soon, we realized the kids were long out of this maze... and we were... LOST.  Really lost.  

We had no idea where we were on the map... 

So we found an emergency exit.  The problem was, even that was difficult.  Thank GOD it wasn't an emergency.  Because we almost got lost again :)   


But we got out... and I left that place feeling lighter and understood.  And I'm so thankful for the few people I've met in this lifetime that have entered this soul place with me.  Who have helped me to grow.  

We got ice cream at a creamery nearby and it was just a really great day.


And simple days filled with friendship and ice cream are the things I know I will remember most.  

And, I'm thankful.

xoxo

Friday, October 10, 2014

October's Moon and Verses to Share

It's a beautiful month for moon watching and charting.  Maia's 5th grade class is keeping a Moon Phase log and the timing couldn't be better.  

Yesterday there was a total lunar eclipse of the Full Hunter's Moon.  Native Americans called it the Hunter's Moon as it signifies a time to go hunting in preparation for the winter cold.  We are preparing for the cold and a new season.  We've decided to buy a wood stove to help with our heating costs and because I love making fires each day when it's cold outside.  And for a new season in life, I've been trying to prepare an office space for full time writing after I'm done working on a big fundraiser that ends at our middle school next week.  

Here are a few sweet verses you can share with your children this month:

~Moon, So Round~
Polish Folk Song

Moon, so round and bright,
Looking from on high,
How I love to see you there,
Shining in the sky!

Where are you at morn,
When the night is past,
When the sun comes peeping down
Over the hills at last?
 ~My Guardian Angel~
Folk Song, arranged by Johannes Brahms

My guardian angel, pure and bright, 
God's face forever seeing,
Protect me and guide my path aright,
While I have breath and being.

When day departs and night is near, 
Thy light in me be shining; 
Teach me all evil deeds to fear,
My heart too good inclining.  

I remember when Keira had this project in the very same class.  While I do not believe in homework the way it is structured in our society, I do appreciate this type of learning at home because it bring children closer to nature and fosters a connection to the rhythms of the earth.  And it also brings the family together which should be done more often.

  ~The October Huntsman~

The huntsman through the greenwood came,
His heart was bent on finding game;
He wandered here, he wandered there,
He wandered here, he wandered there,
A-hunting, A-hunting through greenwood fair.

His faithful hound was by this side,
They searched the greenwood far and wide;
The hound was keen,the hunter gay,
The hound was keen, the hunter gay,
Together, together A-hunting through the long, bright day.

The Little Acorn Learning October Photo Contest has also just begun!  This month's theme is *Scarecrows and Pumpkins*  
Photography by Melissa Patton -Williams
Send us no more than 3 photos correlating to our theme and then ask family and friends to LIKE them on our Facebook Page!  The photos with the most LIKES wins a free e-book from Little Acorn Learning.  Contest ends 10/19/14

Good luck!!!!

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.

xoxox

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!


Enjoy!

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) littleacornlearning.com 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 info@littleacornlearning.com

- 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  

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