We’re all going on a summer holiday…

We broke up from school last week and it finally feels like summer! I have set up our summer holiday nature table and we are off to France on holiday tomorrow. Hurrah!

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First we are camping for three nights in Normandy with my husband’s family and then we go onto a little cottage for a week for a proper family break, so a nice ten whole days away. Yay! We are really looking forward to some quality time together as a family and the slower pace of a holiday, not to mention the tasty French cheeses!

So you are probably wondering why I am sharing this in a craft post! I was in the middle of making a couple of standing puppets for our Waldorf Kindergarten teacher (as a thank you present for all her love and care for both my children over the years – I will share them when they are made), but the packing had to take precedent…

So as the motto is Keep Calm Crafting On¬†and we are always crafting something or other, I thought perhaps I could share my holiday craft supplies with you in the hope that it might be useful somehow ūüôā

I always make sure we have plenty of open ended crafts materials and books with us for rainy days or to keep the children quiet in the early morning. Typically I will bring:

  • Pens, pencils and stockmar¬†crayons
  • A selection of plain coloured paper and seasonal colouring-in pictures from¬†here
  • Scissors, cellotape, glue, stapler, sharpener and hole punch
  • Cameras ( for recording memories) and binoculars ( for looking at the wildlife)
  • Card games, memory, cats cradle ¬†and board games.

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I also bring:

  • A selection of coloured wool and knitting needles
  • Cardboard templates for pom poms and bamboo skewers
  • Cross stitch cards or weaving materials

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And of course a selection of books. I have brought several children’s books about camping that we read every year and we are currently a few chapters into¬†The Secret Garden¬†so will be reading that every day. I also like to take a few small¬†books¬†with me that fit in my handbag when out and about. These are German.

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And as for me, I have plans to do quite a bit of knitting on this¬†shawl and to get the last four squares crocheted for the cushion¬†I am working on. I am bringing my iPod with my favourite meditation CD¬†on it and my beautiful rose quartz angel and a pretty notebook for writing my morning pages¬†in ( a habit that benefits me greatly, but which I have neglected for a couple of months and would like to get back on track with) and I will also hopefully catching up on writing about my daughters’ progress. ( I try to write something every few months; I hope they will enjoy reading about their development one day and it is certainly interesting for me to re-read from time to time – to see how far they have come and also how their personality and preferences were already there right at the beginning).

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I am also planning to read a couple of chapters of Homemaking as a Social Art to try to keep up with Stacey at the the golden hours  (who writes so thoroughly and eloquently about her thoughts on each chapter) and I will also start reading Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves again. Both these books should help me get back on track with my homemaking and parenting. As I have written before, both my daughters are going through a challenging age, especially the nine year old and I think it will be good to read these books whilst on a relaxing holiday, so I have the time to absorb the information and hopefully put it into practise on our return.

Of course we will do a few excursions, but my daughters still have tremendous imaginations and can while away many an hour just playing and creating. Long may that last..

Wishing you all a happy and creative holiday!

 

 

A Rosebud ceremony – leaving Kindergarten

Yesterday we said our final goodbye to the Kindergarten years with two very special ceremonies. What an emotional day it was! As a family we have been part of the Early Years at our school for nearly eight years ( starting with the Parent and Child group) and I will undoubtedly miss it. Both my daughters have cherished their time in our Steiner (Waldorf) Kindergarten and both never wanted the time to end. It is so wonderful¬†that they have spent the first seven years of their lives ¬†in such a warm, loving, nurturing environment, free of any pressures: it is a gift indeed in today’s competitive world.

My youngest daughter is quite immature emotionally, so she was encouraged to spend an extra year in Kindergarten and I am so glad she did: there has been a natural progression and in the last months, since she turned seven, I have noticed signs that she is ready to start her school journey. A Steiner ( Waldorf ) school teacher has a profound knowledge of each child and their needs are considered deeply on all levels.

As in all the Waldorf festivals , the emphasis in these end of term ceremonies is nourishing the soul, making special memories and embracing all that is good and pure. There is so much attention to detail and so much care.

The day started with a family gathering in our Kindergarten. The little table in the middle was beautifully and thoughtfully decorated with a peach gauzy cloth on top of red silk and an abundance of roses encircled the table. On the table were four special treasure boxes with golden paper discs on them ( one for each of the four children leaving Kindergarten for the main school this year: we call them Class 1 risers) and there were also several small boxes for the younger children containing a crystal wrapped in some coloured sheepswool. The children were all  dressed in their finest clothes to reflect the sense of occasion.

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The children were sat quietly in a circle around the table when the parents were asked to enter the room. Our Kindergarten teacher welcomed us and informed us that this was a special day for the four children leaving Kindergarten. She then proceeded to tell this wonderful story. The children sat in silence taking it all in; the older children knowing that their moment had come and the younger children knowing that one day it would be their turn too.

After the story, the children were given their special gifts. The older children had seen these treasure boxes being presented over the years and were eagerly anticipating having one all to themselves. They all looked so very proud and quite awestruck by the occasion.¬†In the treasure box under the golden ‘sun’ was a key on a peach ribbon; their very own key ūüôā

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The older children have been making hobby horses this past half term. In six short weeks they each made one of these beautiful specimens! ¬†My daughter C’s ¬†is called Sparkle.

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Later on that afternoon, another special ceremony was held for all the children who will be going up to Class 1 in September ( there are four Kindergartens in our school).  It is called the Rosebud ceremony and was held in our school hall.

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We all sat in a large circle; parents behind their children (and siblings were included too or other family members). Several vases of long stemmed pink roses were dotted around a simple but beautifully decorated  table;  one rose for each of the little rosebuds.

Poems were recited and the story of the Sand horse was told and finally the teachers sang the most beautiful and poignant song as they presented a rose to each child. This song says it all. Needless to say we were all very moved:

The rose buds now have opened

We’ve watched as each one blooms

With the guidance of the sun, 

The stars, the earth and moon

Now on the earth we see them

Their scent fills the air

We’ll watch them now enfold

Grow strong and bright and fair 

After the ceremony, the parents were asked to wait outside in the courtyard for their children to come riding out on their new hobby horse friends. Both my children are really shy in public so didn’t manage it really. I rescued C as it was just too big an occasion for her, she came out crying, but most of the children galloped to their parents with glee. She soon recovered and here she is with Sparkle.

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And once again with her rose and treasure box

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I feel so fortunate that my children have had this wonderful experience. It is so special and this is how memories are made.

C has been doing a lot of riding around the garden on Sparkle since then.

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And here Sparkle is with her new friend Autumn, who my elder daughter made when she left Kindergarten three years ago. C set up a little feeding station for them in the garden.

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Such special memories. I would recommend the Early Years of Steiner (Waldorf) education to anyone who would like to give their child a wholesome, gentle start to their journey away from home.

 

 

A Kindergarten leaving story

The following story was beautifully told at the leaving ceremony my daughter had in her Kindergarten. It had been rehearsed for the week leading up to the ceremony and all the children were familiar with it. A Waldorf teacher tells the story from her heart without the need to read it.  It was altered slightly by our Kindergarten teacher; changing the oldest prince to the oldest princess ( as my daughter is the oldest child in her class) and the number of children is changed according the the number of children leaving Kindergarten for Class 1.

So here it is: a beautiful story that reflects their journey:

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen and they lived in a beautiful kingdom with all their children. The big palace they lived in was surrounded by the most beautiful garden you have ever seen. It was so big that there was enough space for all the King’s children to play happily together. There were trees, bushes and even a pond with swans and ducks. Around this garden, however was a high stone wall, too high for any of the children to look over. But they didn’t mind, for there was so much to do in the garden.

In the middle of the garden grew the biggest tree of the garden; an oak. This oak was so high that the lowest branches were still too high for the King’s children to touch. But every day the older ones came to see if they were big enough yet. They jumped up, but no, they were still too small. One day the oldest prince could touch one of the branches with the tips of his fingers. He was so excited that he ran off to tell all his brothers and sisters. From that day he tried every day. And seven weeks later he was able to touch the branches with the palms of his hands.

He kept coming back to the tree every day to see whether he was tall enough yet to pull himself up and climb the tree. After another seven long weeks the time had come that this prince could pull himself up and get up to the first branch.  What a joy that was for his brothers and sisters, who had all gathered under the tree, for the King and Queen who were looking out of one of the windows of the place, but most of all for the prince himself.

First of all he felt a bit wobbly so high up, but he soon found his balance and started to look around. What a joy! He could see the grass and all his brothers and sisters playing and looking up at him. And then he thought”let’s see if I can climb up to the second branch”. He stood up, pulled himself up to the second branch and again had to find his balance. When he did, he found himself looking over the garden and seeing the pond with the beautiful swans swimming in it. And he enjoyed that view very much. Then he wanted to see more and he climbed up to the third branch. This time he could see the cook inside the palace preparing supper in the palace kitchens, with all his helpers walking around him. ¬†The fourth branch however enabled him to see the big blue sky. On this particular day, the sun was shining so brightly that the prince looked at its beams and how they made everything sparkle and shine. And that is when he noticed something else; he was high enough to look over the wall into a new world. He was so excited and he couldn’t get enough of looking wherever the sun beams were leading his eyes. All of a sudden, he noticed another palace, a beautiful place. He could even look inside. He saw a King walking towards a beautiful room with a throne, preparing the room, moving things and ¬†adding things.

Seeing the is King made the prince long to go there and as quickly as he could, he climbed down. Once in the garden, he ran to the high stone wall and he walked along the wall searching for a door. To his great disappointment, he could not find a door. From that day, the prince climbed into the tree every day to look to that beautiful palace to see if he could see the King again. Every day he wanted to be there more; he longed to be there.

Meanwhile there were more princes and princesses who tried every day to see if they were big enough to climb the oak tree. And the day came when there were five ( number of leaving children) children in the tree. They all climbed the branch and experienced the beauty around them; first they saw their brothers and sisters in the garden, then they saw the swans in the pond and climbing onto the third branch, they saw the cook in the kitchen. The joy of seeing the sky with the beautiful sun was indescribable. All four of them were to be found in that tree every day. They loved looking at the other palace searching for the King and they all so wanted to go there.

One morning, when all four of them were high up in the tree, they heard someone calling them down. And as quick as squirrels, they climbed down to find the King and the Queen at the bottom of the tree. With them were two servants. One was carrying a red cushion with a golden key and the other was carrying a golden tray with five treasure boxes with a golden sun on top. The children looked at the King expectantly, waiting for what was to come. When all had landed on the earth, the King said: ” My dear children, the time has come for you to go into the wide word, but before you go I want to give you something”. After these words he picked up the first box and gave it to one of them with the following words:

” May the treasure of the sunshine bright

Give you strength and warmth and light

In your adventures full of fun

Remember the light my beautiful sun/son”.

Then the second box and the third, fourth and the fifth until he had given them all a treasure. After that he asked them all to follow him. They followed him to the wall and the King waited for a moment until everyone was there. Then he pushed some rose branches away and there was the door. He took the key off the cushion and opened the door with it. When the door opened, their eyes met with a familiar face; on the other side was the King that they had seen in his palace from their tree. With a big smile on their faces the children stepped through the door, waved goodbye to their brothers and sister and to the King and Queen. They took the other King’s hand and off they went. The children that were left in the garden looked at them for a long time until they could hardly see them. Then the King locked the door again. They were sad to say goodbye to the their friends but they knew they would meet again.

 

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Extract from the Kindling journal, written by Karen Bayens of Somerset Steiner school.

Made, making and mending

As mentioned in my previous¬†post, I have made yet another little cushion! This one is for my youngest daughter C. I made it from material and ribbons that I already had as C was insistent that I start it right away. It’s really bright and cheery – much like the little girl for whom it was made! And once again those cute rabbits made an appearance on the back ūüôā

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Apart from the cushion, I have been doing a bit of mending, including sewing the beard back on a gnome my daughter H knitted in Class 2 of our Steiner ( Waldorf) school last year. Isn’t he gorgeous!

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I have made some headway on my crotchet cushion. Eleven squares down, five more to go. I am really enjoying it now, although I still prefer to knit as I can do it on long car journeys (I get car sick when I crotchet as it involves me looking down ) and whilst watching a film ( as I have to look down at my work the whole time, I cant get really engrossed in a film ). I imagine a more experienced crocheter would be able to do it without always looking? Or maybe not? Let me know.

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And finally, when I am not sewing or crocheting, I have signed up to test knit a shawl. I have had this gorgeous alpaca yarn for over a year and really wanted to finally make a shawl with it. Luckily when I searched ravelry for something suitable this came up.

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It is a pleasure to knit and the colour is coming up beautifully. The deadline is mid- August; just in time to cosy up in it around the campfire this summer ūüôā

Joining the crafty folk at Frontier Dreams for the KKCO

 

 

 

 

Her favourite things

Whilst my eldest daughter H was at her class camp last week, I had a plea from my youngest to make a camp cushion for her too and she wanted it right away! I finished it just before H came back from camping at the farm; exhausted but exhilarated by the experience.

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For three days, my youngest daughter C had the experience of an only child and although she missed her sister, especially at night, she also enjoyed having her parents all to herself. We let her decide what we ate and what she wanted to do after Kindergarten; a rare treat for this sweet girl.

On the first day, she asked to watch a film with me ( something we rarely do ) and when Daddy came home we went out to eat fish and chips on the beach ( something we try to do at least twice over the summer – a little tradition we started many years ago ). Her older sister doesn’t like chips that much ( in fact she is a very healthy eater), but it was a lovely treat for C and having our undivided attention¬†was a real bonus.

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On the second day, she wanted to play board games and eat noodles ( another thing her sister isn’t too keen on). She surprised us with a special dessert she prepared in secret!

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Apples with cream, granola and a strawberry with some strawberry milk ( milk with smooched strawberries that she strained).

And on the last day, we made gluten free pizza and pan toasted seeds with tamari. Yum!

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These are her favourite foods ( she isn’t such a healthy eater!). I think it really meant a lot to C to make a few decisions – ¬†which you don’t get to do much of when you are the youngest!

I can see how important it is for children to make some decisions for themselves now and then, especially as they get older ( Steiner recommended that¬†very young children – before six – shouldn’t be asked to make any decisions as it ‘wakes them’ prematurely from their dreamlike state – more about that another time). It is empowering for them and they feel heard and valued. As someone whose parents made all the decisions and disempowered me at every step of the way ( perhaps unintentionally ), I find myself quite stressed out when making even simple¬†decisions! I think it would have definitely helped to practise this growing up…

When H came back from camp it was challenging for both girls to adapt. They both find transitions difficult as they are highly sensitive : H was really upset that camp life was over and everything seemed so mundane and routine to her and C also struggled to adapt after enjoying having the house and us to herself for a few days and not always being told what to do by her sister ( this book says it all!).

Things have settled down now but it’s certainly not as quiet here anymore!! ūüôā

 

Going to camp

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My eldest daughter  just left for her camp out with Class 3 of our local Steiner ( Waldorf) school. She will be away for three whole nights. Last summer she was just away for one night and daddy went with the class, but this time she is going without us. She is nine.

One of the subjects in the third year of the Waldorf curriculum is farming: the children have been spending a morning every week working at a local community allotment; gardening and caring for the chickens and their teacher has been reading the Little house books to them when they have their snack every day. Children of this age group question everything; how things work; why things are as they are and the curriculum meets them at every stage in their development.

The children have just completed their main lesson block about farming and as a culmination of this they are going to stay at a biodynamic farm in the South East. It is going to be a big adventure for them:  they will be getting up early to milk the cows and will be responsible for feeding the chickens, helping prepare their own meals, digging a compost toilet (!) and they shall  be attending talks, asking questions, going for nature walks and of course playing lots of cooperative games with campfire songs and stories in the evening. Sounds lovely РI want to go!

It has been a bit fraught here these last few days as her little sister  has been very anxious about her big sister going away and H herself, although very excited about this big adventure, was also showing signs of nerves and having nightmares again, so there has been a fair bit of family discord. Sometimes the build up to things is more difficult than the actual event itself I find.

I am hoping we can keep C entertained these next few days as she will be missing her sister terribly. They are so close. I of course am going to miss her too. I got quite emotional yesterday evening at the thought that we wouldn’t see her for three days and that this is just the beginning of many many little steps away from home, getting bigger as they get older. But at these times I remind myself of the wise words of Khalil Ibrahim in The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

For it is our job to prepare our children for the future, to encourage them to take risks, to seek their purpose.

On the crafting front, I thought it would be nice for H to have a few homemade things to take with her to remind her that we are thinking of her and she is always in our heart. She needed a camp pillow, so I made her one like the one here.

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I am about to start making one for C as she was feeling very left out anyway.

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I also knitted up a quick cowl for the cold nights round the campfire ( we are in England after all!) as both girls have had their eye on my Drop stitch cowl. I cast on less stitches to make it a better fit.

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As you can see they are happy with them. C likes to wear hers pulled down as that is the look she was used to with my one! It is such a lovely quick knit. I did two in two short evening sessions watching Call the Midwife. Joy!

And then I baked a cake last night for the children to share at camp. All parents have baked something, so there should be plenty of cake to go around. I used our own beetroot in this beetroot seed cake recipe here

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I had to omit egg due to egg allergies in the class and used ground linseed instead:  Two tablespoon of linseeds and six tablespoons of warm water replaces two eggs. Leave to stand for a few minutes before using. I found this in here. It works well. I also replaced the sugar with honey to make it less sweet. It has worked out pretty well, if a little crumbly, but still very tasty.  The original version is delicious! I often make it for cake sales at school.

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So now for three whole days with just one daughter. We are planning a fish and chip supper down on the beach one evening as C loves that and we haven’t done it yet this year…now to think of some more plans to make C feel she isn’t missing out terribly and that having us all to herself is actually a treat!

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Joining Frontier Dreams and all the other crafty folk at  KKCO.