Thursday, January 31, 2013

pinterest inspiration in action

Do you ever feel like you're pinning ideas all the time but none of them are coming to fruition? I have decided to try at least one thing from my pinterest boards each week. It might only be a recipe or it might be building homemade veggie plot... but I'll try to keep sharing my creations along the way!

 Valentine Heart by North - pinterest inspiration here

 Toddler Pillowcase Skirt- pinterest inspiration here

Needle-Felted Elbow Jumper for Indi- pinterest inspiration here

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

on teaching the alphabet in early childhood despite our waldorf values

As many of you know or can gather from my posts we are a very Waldorf inspired family. That said, not everything we do is always within a strictly Waldorf realm. As much as I value and believe in the importance of rhythm, limiting media and screens, having open-ended toys and time to play and explore, spending a large amount of time outdoors together as a family and the power of those sneaky little gnomes, I am also a parent in the year 2013 and I can only do my best at protecting my children's precious childhood- all too often stolen from most children far, far too early.

I don't model a strictly Waldorf perspective for my children because I believe being authentic and honest is of the utmost importance. And this belief is what prompted me to teach my four-year-old son the alphabet after him having expressed a relentless desire to learn to read and write. I know the more orthodox Waldorf teachers might disagree with this move.

Since just over the age of three North has consistently begged to be taught 'to write' (a desire to read has only come more recently). When I saw a post at Small Things highlighting the reading program Ginny uses for her young children I had a hunch it might be perfect for North. He's as virgo as they get at four- organised, meticulous, a perfectionist and methodical. I downloaded free lesson samples and got a feel for what to expect and decided to invest in the Pre-Reading series.

We've been taking it really slow. A few letters a week while Indigo naps. We've only just finished capitals and have moved on to lower case letters as well as their 'sounds'. We have pretty much followed the curriculum to a tee because North absolutely adores it. He calls the whole process "doing a Ziggy" as in, "Can we do a Ziggy today?". (Ziggy is a Zebra who aids the teacher in a lot of the lessons). I never initiate this time together it all depends on North's level of interest. Some weeks we do a letter almost every day and others we mightn't do one at all.

Despite our apparent inconsistency and my intentional lack of drilling or testing North can officially identify every capital letter and write them with a fair amount of ease. I am trying to make sure he writes the letters with correct form (eg. when writing an L starting with the downward stroke and then adding the horizontal line as opposed to vice versa) so his teacher's aren't too cross with me in the future. I also hope he isn't so far ahead when he gets to first grade that he becomes bored in class and is a disruption to the other students. Surely he won't be the only one who has some knowledge of the alphabet even at a Waldorf school.
Young children often take interest in what others do around them and want to mimic it but North's interest in letters and words, in my opinion, went far beyond the monkey see monkey do that we often see in early childhood and the last thing I wanted to do was discourage an innate love for and interest in reading and writing.

On the other end of the spectrum some of you without such a huge Waldorf influence in your lives may be asking what on earth all the fuss is about! Perhaps your children have been learning the alphabet since they were 2 and 3 years old.

I don't think there is a great big right or wrong answer here, in fact there is a lot of grey, but I hope I have made the right decision for my son because that's what parenting is really all about- doing all the research and the reading, combining that knowledge with all the knowledge you already have about your own child, meditating, praying and then hoping the decisions you make are the best you can offer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

maple spelt drop scones

I love drop scones of all kinds. So easy, simple and delicious!

2 1/2 cups whole wheat spelt flour
1/2 tsp bi-carb
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 egg
1 cup whole milk
dash of vanilla 
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Mix dry ingredients together, then add cubed butter and mix with fingers until the flour resembles course bread crumbs.
Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the bread crumb-like mixture until well combined (the dough will be quite wet compared with normal bread dough but thicker and drier than a muffin mix).
Spoon the dough onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and cooked through the middle.
This made about 12 large scones for us.
*You can likely decrease the amount of maple syrup if you don't want these to be so sweet and don't have to alter the rest of the recipe. I am guessing the dough will probably be a bit more dry and the end product a bit more dense.

We had ours with homemade chilli tonight- we've had a bit too much rice lately. Tomorrow we'll have them with cream and jam for breakfast.

Monday, January 28, 2013

a portrait a week 4/52

Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my children each week throughout the year.
Visit her at Che and Fidel for more details and perhaps you'll be inspired too.

Indigo and North- cooling down at the beach

Saturday, January 26, 2013

a portrait a week 3/52

Catching up again!

Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my children each week throughout the year.
Visit her at Che and Fidel for more details and perhaps you'll be inspired too.
Indi and North- a few of their favourite things: digging in the sand and popcorn.

Friday, January 25, 2013

quick and easy vegetarian quiche with puff pastry

6 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
salt and pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheese
 1/3 cup frozen peas
diced red capsicum
halved baby tomatoes
1/3 cup corn off the cob

1 piece of organic puff pastry (preferable made with butter as opposed to vegetable oil)
organic butter

Generously grease a square baking dish with butter
Lay the puff pastry on the bottom and place in an oven at 200˚C for 5 minutes while prepping the other veg
Beat the eggs and milk, salt and pepper together in a bowl, then prep vegetables
Pour the egg and milk onto the puff pastry in the baking dish, add the cheese and then add the vegetables to the top
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (I am really bad at timing things I just go with my gut so keep an eye on it!) or until the middle is firm and baked through

Serve with a simple green salad on a hot summer's night!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

wet-on-wet watercolour painting for early childhood

Watercolour painting at our house is a very relaxing and soothing activity that we often do in the afternoons just after Indi's nap. Both the children are still in an introverted kind of mood which lends itself well to a quiet task. Wet-on-wet watercolour painting is a beautiful choice for young children because they can experience the flow of colour and colour combinations without having to worry about creating forms.

Before Indi wakes up I cut the watercolour paper into rectangles (with Waldorf style rounded corners) and soak it in water for about 15 minutes prior to painting. I generally only lay out 1-2 colours which compliment each other so that the children can experiment with colour combining without ending up with brown muddled paintings in the end.

I sponge the paper off once I remove it from the water and then say the following verse

Now I take the brush so gently, 
In my hand with loving care, 
Watch the colour flow so softly, 
On the paper clean and clear

Then the children are free to do as they please for as long as they desire. Indigo needs a bit more guidance and supervision but North is happy to create without any interference. We usually don't do more than two sheets each. Often I join the children in painting too. Watercolour paintings make lovely gift cards, notecards and/or background paper for calendars and to do lists amongst other beautiful papery things.

Sarah Baldwin's watercolour painting tutorials (part I and part II) are very informative. I haven't done the rainbow story yet (part II) but I'd like to soon- I think North would especially enjoy it.

Some days we do regular painting with the classic non-toxic, thick bright coloured paints, but watercolour days are my personal favourites. The mood left behind after these moments is one of peace and contentment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

these summer days

What an incredible few weeks we've had. Indi, North and I flew halfway across the world and back to visit my parents on the beaches of America; while we were gone Brad moved house for us (!!); and having just returned, we're only just emerging from the thick of unpacking to help our new house become our 'home'.

In just one week North will be starting three days a week in 'Little Kindy' and we'll be rushed through the flow of the school year. But for now, we're enjoying lazy mornings, slow days together in the backyard creating, afternoon icy poles and a few topless quiet moments here and there (well, at least the kids are... I'm happy just to have bare feet).

Are you enjoying these summer days? Are you looking forward to getting back into the swing of things or relishing every last moment?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a portrait a week 2/52

Catching up...

Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my children each week throughout the year.

Visit her at Che and Fidel for more details and perhaps you'll be inspired too.

North and Indigo- water babies

Thursday, January 10, 2013

a portrait a week 1/52

Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my children each week throughout the year.

Visit her at Che and Fidel for more details and perhaps you'll be inspired too.

North- Counting sand dollars, treasuring each one.
Indigo- "No!", with smiling eyes.