Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Justin has a new sign in his arsenal. Here he clearly demonstrates 'no'. And he definitley knows what it means. Hooray.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Spiral- Year 2

Last year, Alex was a bit cautious when walking the Advent Spiral. She was just a few months past her 3rd birthday, shy and still a little overwhelmed with the whole 'school' thing. This year it was a whole different story. She entered the room, hand in hand with her classmates, and gave me a quick wave/nod of recognition...thanks, kid. The kindergarten class was so reverent this year-- they really watched each of their classmates. Alexandra was so excited for her turn that she thought (a few times) the teacher was pointing to her when she was really pointing to another child a few chairs down. FINALLY it was Alex's turn. She carefully held her apple and unlit candle-- glanced over her shoulder at me (while I cringed, sure she'd run straight into a lit candle) and proceeded to swiftly and surely walk to the center of the spiral. There she bent in half, confidently lit her candle and went straight to finding a star to place it on. She proudly skipped out of the spiral back to her seat.

The light at the center of the spiral. A Mary-figure walked the spiral first, to bring the light into the center. Then each child walked into the center and lit their candle from that flame, placing it on the ground to bring light to the room.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The First Light of Advent

I've been thinking about making an Advent wreath for a while now, but it somehow never made the top of my to-do list. Fortunately, Miss Brenda is apparently a mind-reader. Today each child exited kindergarten carefully carrying a gorgeous handmade Advent 'wreath' candleholder. They foraged the logs, helped the groundskeeper cut them, sanded rough edges and hand-drilled holes for each candle before thoughtfully placing pine boughs and pinecones on the top. Then (the thing that Alex is most proud of) they tied a bright red ribbon round the base.
The first thing we did when we got home was to place it in the middle of the dining table and adorn it with the symbols of the 1st week of Advent (stone, seashell and crystal). We will light the first candle tonight!
"The first light of Advent
Is the light of the stones

The light that shines through

Seashells, crystals and bones"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving No. 2

Due to an unforseen illness (on Andy William's part), Mary and Bob cancelled their original plan to do Branson this Thanksgiving and decided, instead, to join us in Minnesota. After returning for our First Thanksgiving at Lake Shetek (more to come on that later), we had a 'late' Thanksgiving on Saturday afternoon. It was the best one ever. I was in my own home but I didn't have to lift a finger!! They took care of all the cooking, Sam, Carrie and Brad took care of entertaining the young ones and Dave and I got to organize the garage (...ok-- never actually though the day would come where I would be excited to organize the garage on our 'time off') in the morning.

Bob's turkey was perfect, and we all enjoyed the meal, the company, and (after the kids were in bed) watching Muppet Christmas Carol to formally kick off the Christmas season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spreading the Joy

(I am currently trying to assemble all the photos taken from this past Thanksgiving celebration....because my good camera is still in the shop. ahem. I am at the mercy of the generous and talented family members who have documented the past few days)
We changed our seasonal decor from Fall-Thanksgiving to Advent-Christmas today. Due to the change, our somewhat mushy pumpkins were redistributed to the wild animals and birds. Alex and Dave decided to do a bit of 'guerilla gardening' and destroy the pumpkins on the hill behind us. Hopefully some of the seeds will take next spring and we'll have some volunteer plants in the weedy area between our yard and the alfalfa field!

Yep. Bogs, Woolies and her new down jacket. Perfect pumpkin-destroying outfit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Book Basket

With the arrival of the snow, Alex and I decided that it was time to get our winter books out! Justin and I spent all afternoon snuggled in the living room, reading and looking out at the snow.... and at Alexandra tromping about, delighting in the fluffiness of it all. We finished off our day with some hot cocoa. I always forget how much I like least in the beginning.

Some of our favorite 'Winter' books: The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lingren, Mama, Will it Snow Tonight? by Nancy White Carlstrom, The Winter Hedgehog by Ann and Reg Cartwright, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Ola by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, and Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Essential Elements'

One of my friends recently posted an entry on her blog that highlighted the "Essential Elements" of being a Waldorf Kindergarten and family. Her list was exactly what I needed to keep our goals in the forefront of my consciousness. Using a watercolor art piece that Alex did in school last year, I copied her 'Essential Elements' and added one of my own (the last one). It is displayed on our fridge, so I am confronted with my parental responsibilities multiple times a day. I can also look at it if (who am I kidding... when) I'm just "done" and remind myself what is truly important. I love being a Mama to these two, and I am so thankful to have such a supportive network of family and friends who all help me keep these 'Essential Elements' alive in our home.

"Essential Elements: Nourishment for the senses, Creative artistic experiences, Meaningful adult activity as an example for imitation, Free imaginative play, Protection for the forces of childhood, Gratitude, reverence and wonder, Joy, humor and happiness, Adult caregiver on a path of inner development, and God in every moment"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mama and Alex Day

We decided to leave the 'boys' at home today. Alex and I had a fantastic Mama and Me morning. We started off with her skating lessons, which she had a breakthrough during. All of a sudden she figured out how to glide on the ice, and just took off! No more cautious shuffling, falling, righting oneself. Now she's a skater!After lessons, we headed to the MN Waldorf School Holiday Fair. It had just started to snow when we arrived, but we braved the outside food cart line to get some delicious lunch (sweet potato tacos and a free-range hot dog). We browsed in the marketplace, Alex used her own money to pick out some very special (surprise) gifts for the entire family in the Snow Fairy Gift Garden. We watched the Kindergarten teachers perform 'Snow White and Rose Red' puppet play, Alex visited the Gnome Cave, got her face painted, and we made some lovely paper angels to grace our Christmas tree this year. By the time we were done, it was snowing fairly hard, and fairly treacherous on the roads. We took it nice and slow and arrived home safely-- just in time to drink some hot cocoa and watch King Winter blanket our yard.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Banana Boy!

(Under close observation, of course) Justin enjoys his favorite breakfast.

These chubby little banana hands make all the mess worthwile!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Justin's Music Moves

We don't tend to have music (at least non-instrumental) on very much during the day, it's just one extra layer of 'distraction' and noise that takes away from imaginative play, but every once in a while we have a focused 'music day'. Justin loves it!

(I found our second-oldest digital camera, which actually has video capabilities!) Enjoy this clip of J-man busting out a dance move or two. :-) (Oh-- and disregard the mess in the background. Alex was making a 'cozy kity bed' in front of the fireplace).

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Tent Day

It was a fairly cold, grey we played with our kitch table tent for a while. Even Percival got in on the action. Soon all the couch pillows and quilts were piled inside and Alexandra and Justin were having "a meeting" inside. No Mamas allowed! :-P

Friday, November 11, 2011

Martinmas Latern Walk

Every year, Alex's kindergarten teacher makes these amazing Martimas lanterns with her class. This year the children incorporated leaves and grapevine (they used watercolored stars last year). Alex and I (and Daddy, after he put Justin to bed) walked the backyard (and into the field that borders our house). Alex taught me the "Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer" song, and we sang it quietly as we walked, filling the dark with our light. Last year it was neat to see Alex carrying her own lantern, and it was even a greater sight to see two together.

A Martinmas poem to conclude with:

St. Martin, St. Martin,

St. Martin rode through wind and snow

on his strong horse his heart aglow

He rode so boldly through the storm,

his large cloak kept him well and warm.

By the roadside, by the roadside,

by the roadside a poor man arose

out of the snow in tattered clothes

"I beg you help me in my plight

or else I'll die of cold tonight."

St. Martin, St. Martin,

St. Martin stopped his horse and drew

his sword and cut his cloak in two

one half to the beggar man he gave

and by this deed his life did save.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laundry Problem

Sorry for the weird color! Auntie Rorie stopped by this afternoon and was only too happy to help me with my 'laundry problem'. :-)

Camera update

I'm sure you've noticed (at least I have) that my photos have been a bit 'off' these last few weeks. It got annoying enough that we brought the camera in for cleaning (that, and the fact that the shutter stopped opening....whoops). So...I'll be using Al's camera (our 10+ year old one) until I can regain possession of mine. Sigh.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Boy

So..... being a Waldorf family, we strive for zero screen time for our kids. However they do get a hold of Mama and Daddy's 'toys' occasionally. Look at how proud Justin is that he scaled the couch and successfully seized control of the iPad. :-) Luckily he doesn't know how to turn it on.... yet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ice Skating Lessons

Our neighbors build an ice hockey rink in their backyard every year, and Alex really wants to be able to skate with her little friend this winter. So..... ice skating lessons at the community center it is! Since Gramps and Grams were in town, we all went to watch her first ever time on the ice.

We got there a touch early, just to make sure we knew where to go and had time to get her skates sharpened. We were able to watch a little bit of open skate time (all those 'big girls' twirling around out there were inspiring to Al!)
We weren't quite sure how her skiing experience would translate to the ice. It would either be a huge advantage (she's used to being in winter gear, a helmet, balancing) or disadvantage (ice is not like snow at all, she's used to a degree of control, etc). Turns out that the ice was MUCH slippier than she anticipated-- she fell countless times-- much more than anyone else in her beginner group. However, I am VERY proud to relate that unlike anyone else in her class, she was able to quickly 'pop' back up by herself, regain her composure and carry on. There were a few falls that I was sure would end in frustration and crying and Dave having to scramble out there to bring her back, but there were absolutely no tears. She is a resilent, determined little thing. Tough, too! It will be fun to see how she progresses over the next few weeks.

"When you fall down, you just get right back up!"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alex (Again!)

Alex had pretty much forgotten about her birthday, but our visitors this weekend (Gramps and Grams) were excited to remind her! She received a wonderful present from them-- her very own sewing machine. (I researched all the 'beginner' machines and found a great one with a V-E-R-Y slow speed setting). She loves it! She learned how to put the foot up and down, control the needle , sew with control and wind the bobbin. She has completed a few 'projects' already-- a pillow for Nicki and a scarf for Miss Kitty. Here's to many more days in the studio ahead!Thanks for a fun visit and a great birthday present!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Justin's 9 Month Photos

Here are a select favorites- taken at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina by the one, the only Dietrich Gesk (a shameless plug for our favorite photographer)....otherwise, feel free to peruse the online gallery. Enjoy!

Back on Schedule

After Mr. Justin's birth, I have to admit to having somewhat fallen off the weekly meal plan wagon. I knew it would happen....and I am able to proudly say that we are now finally (10+ months later) back into it. Some questions I've had: 1. Doesn't this get boring? Actually it is very freeing! Our meal rhythm is purposefully pretty 'general'- this allows some latitude for trying new recipes (or, more than likely, making the same tried and true ones). Alex loves knowing what 'day' it is. 2. What if something comes up? We're pretty flexible. If, for example, we're invited out to eat on 'pasta night', we go out to eat (assuming both kids are well rested, of course). If I've already unthawed something for our pasta, it just gets put into the casserole the next night. 3. Is it more work? It's less. Once you know what to expect to cook, you can stock your pantry accordingly. I know we will make it through a bunch of whole wheat spaghetti noodles in the next 6 months, so I buy them in bulk at Sam's Club. Similarily, I don't really need a bunch of pre-prepared foods (wontons, specialty soups, frozen meals etc.) so we save money by not buying those 'luxury' items.

I do have to admit that Dave was a hard sell at first. However, he greatly appreciates having a meal actually MADE by the time he gets home (most nights), instead of the all-to-familiar "I don't know what's for dinner.....what do we have?". Even if it does contain squash.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome, Pumpkin Fairy!

I think we've found our 'Halloween' groove. I struggled with this holiday this year. It's just so icky and creepy. Gone are the days of black cats and grinning's Halloween seems to be about creepy zombies, decaying corpses and scary, violent costumes. I know that there's always been a small market for the horror-film fans, but it seems like that's ALL that's out there. We've been avoiding stores with Halloween displays (ever since the scary robotic voodoo priest freaked Alex out last year at Michael's), but it seems like Trick-or-Treating is just welcoming up a whole world of scary possibilities. For young children a person with a skeleton mask on IS a skeleton. We ended up having the Mulders over -- carving our jack-o-lantern, having some fresh bread and soup and trick or treating early (with the preschool crowd). We retired just as early. We sat out on the porch for a while with our friends, but went to bed as soon as the groups of 'big kids' in scary gear started their rounds. I left out a bowl of candy for the trick-or-treaters this year....which was completely cleaned out by 7:30. This way we avoided the ringing doorbells and excited/frightened Alexandra every time the door opened. The BEST part of Halloween this year was the Pumpkin Fairy. After examining her loot (and selecting about 6 pieces of the most delicious looking candy to save), we emptied her stash into a basket and covered it with a playsilk. This is an invitation for the Pumpkin Fairy to come. She flutters in (about midnight or so) and uses her magic to transform the candy into a wonderful surprise. This is the first year we've invited her to our house, and I think it's a tradition we'll keep. This year she brought some new playdough (I told Alex I would NEVER buy it again because she keeps leaving it out overnight, but the Pumpkin Fairy heard her silent plea and restocked her) and a hand mirror that she was able to decorate with glitter and jewels.