Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
North has really started to get involved with his wooden puzzle sets. It's definitely a guided activity- not so much because he needs help placing the pieces into their correct spaces, but because he needs help setting everything up, laying the pieces out and he enjoys a little bit of vocal encouragement ("good job!"/ "turn it around a bit").
Hand Eye Coordination
Placing the pieces in the correct spot takes a great deal of concentration and effort. At first your toddler may struggles- trying to forces pieces in the wrong spot or at the wrong angle. Over time, their hand eye coordination will develop and they will place the pieces in with ease.
When a child works on a puzzle with an adult or other children it teaches them cooperation and is a wonderful way to work on their listening skills. Simple commands such as "Turn it upside down", or questions like, "Where does the cow go", teach them how to listen, react and verbally respond. Puzzles are also a great way to introduce 'quiet time' to an active child. it is a quiet activity that involves a great deal of concentration- so your child is still expending energy.
Fine Motor Skills
Puzzles also help to develop their pincer grip (the grip between the pointing finger and thumb), which is an essential skill for humans. This is the same grip that will eventually enable them to write with a pencil.
It is important to use age appropriate puzzles in order to keep your child happy and frustration-free. Wooden puzzles are best for toddlers through to pre-school as they are sturdy and can endure being slammed against the table, stomped on or being thrown on the floor. Cardboard puzzles with a number of small pieces can be used once a child is old enough to calmly lay the pieces out over a large flat surface and is patient enough to complete such a lengthy task.
Keep your eye out for a variety of puzzles at your local Op shop- almost all of our puzzles are thrifted treasures.
Simple is best. Keep the puzzles as simple as is age appropriate for your child. They don't need to have glitter on them, sing songs or have their favourite characters on them to be effective! Children do not tire of things at the same impatient rate that adults do. A plain and simple puzzle should last a long time and is less distracting than a complicated version.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The nature table is an important aspect in the Waldorf classroom. You (well the child(ren) really) can put whatever natural things you choose on the table, which is often seasonally or traditional themed (ie. 'autumn' or 'hanukah' or 'easter').
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This season in the urban garden I have planted-
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by Antonine de Saint-Exupery has been translated into more than 180 languages over the past 60 years. Although it's a children’s book it is deeply philosophical in nature and delights even the most serious adult reader.
The narrator, a fallen pilot, finds himself stranded in the Saharan dessert after a serious airplane crash. A little blond Prince approaches him like an enigma and begins to tell the pilot his story. As the pilot attempts to repair his plane the little boy explains he is from another small planet, far from the earth, where he has left his beloved rose in order to explore other parts of the universe. He recounts his journey and the characters he has come across- a king, a conceited man, a drunkard, a lamplighter, and a geographer- all adults who are unable to teach him much more than he already knows. During his visit to Earth he comes across a fox who has a some more valuable lessons. He is then overcome by a desire to return to his little planet and to his rose, willing to sacrifice anything to get back to her.
Here are a few beautiful quotes from the book:
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise."
“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.
“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already felt sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!”
“When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I highly recommend this book to children of all ages- including the child in every Mother and Father. Request it at your local library, keep an eye out for it at the Op shop or buy it as a special treat for someone you love from your local bookstore.
Friday, April 23, 2010
A Masala is a combination of (often dry-roasted) spices and herbs that have been ground and mixed together. For masalas to be most effective they should be made fresh at least twice a month. Certain herbs are better for you in certain seasons, and as the weather changes and chills our environment, it is best to flavour meals with warming, soothing and potent herbs and spices that fight off the colds and flus associated with the cool temperature. When roasting and grinding herbs and spices try to be in a peaceful and calming environment so you are able to enjoy the experience (this may mean having your little one help you or maybe this is an activity reserved for when they’re safely tucked in at night). If you take the time to breathe in the smells and enjoy the colours and textures in front of you, your brain will begin to send signals to your stomach- curbing cravings and aiding digestion. Perhaps preparing, roasting and grinding spices will start to become a meaningful and enjoyable weekly ritual for you.
This ‘early winter masala’ recipe is from the book ‘The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Aurvedic Healing’ by Bri Maya Tiwari.
It is delicious added to rice bowls, for marinating tofu or to spice up a steamed vegetable dish.
2 tbs caraway seeds
2 tbs cumin seeds
1 tsp black/brown mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
Roast and grind the seeds before adding the powders
Caraway Seeds- are especially beneficial for the gastrointestinal system, soothes sore throats and aids in fighting coughs and colds.
Cumin Seeds- are naturally antiseptic, high in iron and have been used to help with flatulence, indigestion, morning sickness and diarrhea. They increase heat in the body creating more energy and increasing the metabolism.
Black Mustard Seeds- are known to be naturally laxative (mildly for the amount added to your masala) and have also been used to treat minor respiratory problems.
Turmeric- is known as one of natures most powerful healers- used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent for centuries. It is also thought to be a major anti-carcinogenic.
Garlic- is another natural anti-biotic that has been throughout history to treat coughs, colds and even ear infections. Garlic is also a naturally warming herb.
As with anything, the more pure your herbs are, the more confident you can be that they are going to do their job well without polluting your body in any way. I think it is especially important to examine your spices and read the information labels looking for harmful preservatives. Also make sure none of your herbs are past their used by date or you could be doing more harm than good. A trustworthy Australian Organic herb provider is gourmet-organics. They have an online shop if you can’t find their brand at your local health food or organic shop.
I encourage you to research spice and herbs that have been frequently and historically used in your family and country and by your ancestors. Experiment and create your own masalas. They do not have to use only dried herbs and spices, but fresh ones as well.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If you experience a lot of allergies through the seasons, I highly recommend giving one a go. There are a variety you can buy, I got my white ceramic one at the local health food store. You can also find them online. Like anything, use it in moderation. I use my neti pot when I am feeling blocked on one side- once in the evening and once when I wake up. It also keeps my nasal passages moist and clean, which can be a challenge when your frolicking in sandpits all day.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
As many of my regular readers know, I am a vegetarian. For a basic explanation of my personal reasons for this, please see my post ‘the vegetarian child: part 1”. But eating mindfully is not just about what you consume, it's also how you prepare your food and how you eat it. Here is a basic guide to our family’s diet philosophy. We do not always adhere to every idea and principal, but we try to keep these in mind as much as we can. Since I started to eat more holistically I have inadvertently lost 5 kilos (about 12 pounds) over the past three years. I have more energy and never binge-eat, overindulge or emotionally eat (something I used to do quite often). Above all else, I am truly a lot happier because I feel that I am living more intune with my ideals and my ethics and that I have grown much closer to my ‘true self’.
*Foods that are in season are evolutionarily designed to best serve our needs at that time of year- eating in season is not only an eco-friendly act, but a way to remember the natural cycle of life and to strengthen your physical body and soul.
*Organic foods are free from chemical residues, are generally grown in season and are not genetically modified. They are much more abundant in nutrients and are of course, better for the environment. If you do not have a local organic produce source you can often find online companies that deliver once a week to your neighbourhood.
*Buy whole ingredients and avoid processed and packaged foods. Replace processed and preservative-laden bread with homemade loaves; replace store bought crackers (dry biscuits) with oven-baked homemade pitas; replace packaged sweets with homemade cakes and cookies sweetened with honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or cane sugar, * Buy naturally processed oils from the health food store (not hydrogenated variations). This way, when you do indulge, you have worked hard for the reward and are likely to consume less often.
*Do not buy or consume foods that have been made in an environment filled with fear, terror, painful death and torture. This is a huge reason why I am vegetarian and I consume fairtrade chocolate and coffee. Food is filled with vital life force that is meant to give us energy. When you eat a steak produced in a factory farm, are you not also consuming the negative energy that went into making that meat? The murderous energy from the slaughterer, the fear of the animal as is watches its sisters being killed, the pain of standing in metal pens and trucks for countless days and the shock and horror or the stungun as it enters the animals head. The same goes for chocolate, eggs, milk or coffee beans produced in similarly oppressive environments- do not underestimate the power of these subtle, but negative energies.
*Have you ever noticed that weekend meals tend to taste far better than a rush job put together last minute? This may seem obvious, but when we put some tender loving care into preparing our food, that love and positive energy radiates into it and our bodies.
*Be conscious of the energy in your grains, legumes and vegetables. Cut vegetables, fruits and herbs along their life lines (following the shape of seeds, veins and leaves)
*Be aware of and enjoy the smells, the textures, the colours and the sounds of the foods as your prepare them- the smell of freshly squeezed lemons or fresh herbs, the velvety softness of black beans, the vibrant colour of a red capsicum (pepper), the crunch of the silver beet under the knife.
*Try to stay in the moment, don’t rush and enjoy the experience. Don’t think of cooking as a means to an end, but a joyful experience that awakens and enlivens our senses.
*Invite love into the kitchen. Have even the youngest of children help to prepare a meal, listen to inspiring music, share a glass of wine or a cup of tea with a loved one while you prepare.
*Eating in a mindful manner means sitting comfortably, (without a television in front of you), surrounded by loved ones and paying attention to each mouthful you swallow- enjoying taste, texture and sounds.
*When we eat mindfully we begin to listen to our wise bodies and become satiated sooner without overindulging.
*Give thanks. You do not have to be religious to be thankful. A simple acknowledgement of the sacrifices that have been made b you, your community, animals and the environment in order to produce the food you are about to eat is an important way to stay present and conscious of food as a life-giving force.
*Be mindful of conversations during meals- engage in calm, soothing and positive conversation, be aware of any negativity or judgement that comes through at the table.
*Eat with your hands whenever you can. The simple joy of hand to mouth is often intercepted by a sharp or plastic utensil.
Simple Vegetarian Curry
Ayurvedic philosophy says that food is composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. As animals, humans are also composed of these elements. Therefore, when we take time to ‘nurture’ our food, we are also nurturing ourselves.
For more recipes please go to my 'fork-worthy' archives or search in my left sidebar under season.