Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth


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Courage For the Task- Mimulus

The flower essences, herbal decoctions or infusions prepared from the flowering parts of a plant and used to facilitate emotional wellness (and impact mental outlook), were pioneered by Dr. Edward Bach to be pro-active responses to the body’s quest for balance (health).  Dr. Bach believed that the roots of disease can begin within the mental/emotional realm and, over time, when a pattern of disharmony develops and becomes pathological, it can amplify and begin to manifest in the realm of the physical body.  This pattern of disharmony, he postulated, originates when a person’s inner and outer worlds- the “I’ one experiences, versus the persona one creates for family, friends, and the outer world- fall out of sync.  I understand this to mean that when I am not true to myself- when my actions contradict what I actually believe, aspire to, and love- a disconnect occurs and I start to lose internal harmony and energy. Eventually this carries over into my physical well being. Bach’s study of flowers was aimed at being able to prevent disease in the body, or- in flower terms- “nip it in the bud”. In comtemplating Dr. Bach’s work, and how others have carried it on, I am fascinated and compelled to learn more.

Mimulus

A friend recently recommended the flower essence mimulus to me, and I have to share what a powerful little punch this flower essence packs!  A superficial study of mimulus yields, likewise, superficial results- it is, according to the “sound byte” summary on Bach’s Flower Essence chart, “Fear of worldly things, illness, pain, accidents, poverty, of dark, of being alone, of misfortune. The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread; they do not freely speak of it to others.”

In trying to define this plant’s powers in terms of treating a stereotypical ‘mimulus’ personality, though, I think many who would benefit from mimulus are thrown off the trail of discovery of this little gem.  I am persuaded that many of us, at certain junctures of our lives, can also benefit greatly from mimulus.  The first fascinating fact about mimulus is that, from what I can tell in researching Dr. Bach and flower essences, it was one of the first flowers Dr. Edward Bach studied.  It was the flower that aided his undertaking, his “bridge to destiny”.  Dr. Bach was coming from a traditional medical establishment, and was an expert on vaccination.  He began to have misgivings and see flaws in the medical establishment he was a member of, and left his respected position to accept a post at a Homeopathic Hospital. It is not hard to imagine him being worried and full of misgivings over such a dramatic turning of the table.  How would he be received in trying to create a new health discipline based on “energetic” flower water?! And yet, he began and his ideas became a worldwide phenomenon. He lived a dedicated, fulfilled life and was truly passionate about his work, feeling he had indeed hit upon his destiny and made the most of it. I hope I will be able to say that at the end of my sojourn on this earth!

There are many varieties of the mimulus, or “monkeyflower”, genus, and mimulus guttatus- the type of mimulus Bach worked with- addresses fears associated with the solar plexus- “gut-level” fears that pertain to everyday life (not emergency or crisis-inspired fears). If you are familiar with the law of signatures- one of the ancient methods herbalists used to consider plants and their purpose or therapeutic value based on physical characteristics (such as habitat, color, shape, etc.)- mimulus guttatus is a bright, lively, yellow.  Yellow relates it to the solar plexus chakra- an action chakra, the “seat of the will”; and to the idea of a sunny, cheerful outlook in contrast to the cloudy fears it dismisses. It is like bringing a handful of sunbeams within. If your fears have darkened your inner light and caused you to lose touch with your true self, the light of mimulus may help you find and retrieve what has been temporarily lost. The very word mimulus comes from the latin root word for “mime”.  Mimes wear a painted mask and cannot give audible voice to their story, instead they must convey it with great dramatization. Mimulus invites you to take off the mask and give voice to your drama.  Dr. Bach was very specific that mimulus helps with fears that one holds in and does not wish to, or feel ready to talk about.  But being able to identify and articulate our fears is often what helps us process and deal with them.

Mimulus also prefers to grow near water, especially clean, well-oxygenated moving water.  Its’ flower heads nod vigorously in the wind. This suggests it has a proclivity for forward movement, and I believe, positive acceptance of circumstances.

When my dear friend recommended mimulus to me, she spoke of destiny and “a shift”.  She had been warned, when she first accepted a recommendation for mimulus, that it was powerful stuff. I definitely felt a shift in my life very shortly after taking it, and it did give me courage for the tasks that seemed fearful in my life. I also felt like it set me in forward movement, whereas I had been stuck in a “spiritual park n’ ride”. A path unfolded before me.  I actually dreamt a very specific dream about a bridge, and being prepared to cross it. Dr. Bach once said “We have much to do, but we must not be afraid of the task.” I think this sums up mimulus aptly. If known fears, anxieties, and dread are keeping you stuck, preventing you from reaching your potential, weighing you down- perhaps mimulus can help you shift forward and give you courage for your task.

Courage does not mean our fears disappear.  It means we are able to recognize our fear in a more objective way so that we can act as we will to, in spite of the fear.  If we give our power to fear, it will take mastery of us.  When we hold our power, when we embody our will, we can look past fear and remember it is just one emotional perspective with which to view our circumstances. Sometimes, our fears serve as valid signals that guide us away from danger or from taking “wrong turns” in life. Sometimes, because of past negative or traumatic experiences, ignorance, or a plethora of other invalid associations and ideas, fear manifests in less productive ways. It is part of our soul’s developmental process to deal with such fears and act with courage. Our task is to decide whether our fears are hindering or protecting us, and deal with them in accordance.

Mimulus, as mentioned earlier, has any different varieties and comes in a rainbow of colors.  Work has been done to understand how these different varieties manifest as plant healers, and several have been identified that address fears related to their specific color chakra.  For instance, scarlet monkeyflower is associated with fears related to sense of personal power (first chakra), and the orange sticky monkeyflower is related to fears associated with intimacy/sexuality (second chakra)- more about that here. I look forward to trying those as well!

 


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Preparing for the Festival Of Courage (Michaelmas in Fairyland)

This year I am working to tie together the lessons for my 3rd grader, first grader, and kindergartener.  I am calling it “Whole Family Homeschool”… where “one room schoolhouse” meets Waldorf education. :) I will have to post the beginning of our year’s container story soon, as it will help make sense of the chapter below.  But, rather than get so far behind in typing the stories out that I procrastinate forever (lol), I will share the first two days of our Michaelmas week stories.  As a bit of a background, each of my three children has been given a special book whilst on a mission in fairyland- my kindergarten daughter has The Real Mother Goose, my first grade son has An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairytales, and my third grade son has Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. These books have been given to them to help them meet the challenges they will face on their missions in lands of fairies, elves, gnomes… and of course… the land of humans!

*Day One*

There was spicy note of celebration in the air.  Everyone in the Elemental Realms was hurrying to finish their day’s work early and some were already preparing for festivities.  Cirrus, Arlo, and Tula were very wide-eyed all day, watching and waiting as the sense of anticipation, palpable and intoxicating, grew and grew. After a satisfying lunch of beech nut stew and blackberry pie, Tula’s book began to glow.  The boys watched excitedly as she opened it, straight down the middle as she had been shown, where a ribbon marked its center pages.  The pages began to flutter, then flip this way and that, until they finally settled.

Cirrus began to read the rhyme aloud to Arlo and Tula.

Jack be nimble, jack be quick,

Jack jump over the candlestick.

Jack be nimble, Jack be spry,

Jack jump over the apple pie.

Jack be nimble, Jack jump high

Jack fly up into the sky.

As they watched, daring fairies and mischievous elves began to dance about and hop over what appeared to be flaming boughs of goldenrod, and when they had tired of this, wee fairy pies.  Finally their jumping contest took to the air as they shot straight up, so quickly that they flew up above the page top and could not be seen til they gleefully descended again.  Arlo’s tummy fluttered a bit as he watched, and Cirrus immediately began to take running leaps at the nearest stand of goldenrod to see if he could make it over.  Tula giggled and shouted “I want to try, too!”

Cobble soon appeared and grunted in the grumpy way gnomes often do.  “Preparing for the Festival of Courage, I see.  Take care you don’t land in the thistles beyond”, he warned, pointing to a thistle patch just past the goldenrod Cirrus was about to throw himself over. And then, to their awe and delight, Cobble took a running start and launched himself through the air, defying all laws of Gnome Gravity, and cleared a single goldenrod plant that was at least four times his height. Tula giggled and Cirrus’s jaw dropped.

“Didn’t think I had it in me, did ya?” he boasted proudly.  I was a champion in my younger years I’ll have you know.  Won the Goldenrod Leaping Trophy three years in a row!” He dusted himself off, and sat upon a large toadstool nearby.

“Goldenrod, you see, is a very special plant.  While other flowers of its ilk blossom from bottom up upon their stalk, goldenrod buds from top to bottom, like a candle burning down.  Tonight the fire fairies will set all the goldenrod plants aglow, and they will burn like candles.  Tomorrow the humans shall wonder why almost all the goldenrod has faded away, but it is time, you see- time for all things to return to rest and pull inward.  It is time for flowers to fade and the days of light to dwindle to their lowest.  Lights out early for the animals, the elementals, the humans.  Now facing darkness can be scary for anyone, just as looking inward and facing your very own self can be daunting.  We all have parts of ourselves we aren’t quite sure we are happy with, things we want to change.  A Festival of Courage celebrates each one of us turning inward and making changes we know we must make. Of course being fairies, elves and gnomes we can’t accomplish any such task without merriment- and so the goldenrod leaping contests have become a tradition.  Nimble Jack was a fairy boy of long ago who set records yet to be beaten today, for fearlessly jumping over the highest and brightest blazing goldenrods.  That is where the rhyme comes from.  And then of course, their is the pie jumping contest… now that is my favorite part!” he said, patting his round gnome belly with a smile of satisfaction.

The children smiled too, and were still and thoughtful for a moment.  Soon they were practicing leaping over goldenrod again.

Nimble

*Day Two*

“Cobble, must all of us leap over the goldenrod when the fire fairies set it on fire?” Arlo asked timidly.  Part of him wanted to imagine himself breaking new records, and part of him was a little scared.

Cobble grinned.  “Ah, when the night is upon us and the excitement of everyone touches your heart, it will embolden you lad.  Take courage from your friends.  But courage, you know, is not about having no fear.  It is about meeting your fear with grace, and understanding that fear is but an illusion, something that falls away when we do what we know, deep down here, is right” he said putting his hand upon his heart.

“I dare say Arlo, but your book seems to be positively glowing!” Cobble pointed to Arlo’s Treasury of Fairytales.

Arlo, quivering with excitement, set his brightly lit book down and it began to flip and flap, until it settled upon the Tale of the Four Skilful Brothers.  Cirrus abandoned his athletics and sat down to read the story to the two smaller children.

When he had finished, the three children and Cobble the Gnome watched as pictures appeared upon the pages where once words had flowed, illustrating the story.  The gently quivering page finally settled upon a magnificent giant of a dragon, curled up in the shape of a huge D.  Arlo traced the D of the dragon’s body on the page, and as he did his finger brushed lightly upon a beautiful crested shield that decorated the borders of the page, where knights in shining armor and beautiful maidens danced happily.  His finger tingled and the book began to shake and shimmy yet again, until three shields and swords shook free of the pages and landed all about them with a metallic clamor.

“Well I’ll be”, Cobble said.  All your accoutrements for the Festival of Courage.  My, but your swords and shields are very plain.  That won’t do- you’d best see the color fairies and ask for paints to add your crests. And while you’re at it, I dare say you might ask them to dye you some golden capes, for all the other fairy folk will be wearing them tonight.”

And so Cobble led the excited children to the village and brought them to a hut with a sign that read “Fairy and Elfen Dyeworks, LTD”.


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Dyeing Silk With Goldenrod (Michaelmas Capes!)

I can remember being annoyed with goldenrod when I first moved to the country.  It really dominates the September landscape, makes it hard to hike through our meadows, has a bad rap for causing allergies (the true culprit is ragweed),and did not seem to have much practical use.  Seven years later, I truly appreciate it- and not just because it dyes silk and wool a lovely, natural yellow- but for its essence and what it represents.  While goldenrod does have medicinal uses, it is also “The Bee Gold Rush”- offering our friends, the bees, a magnificent feast just when they need it most- before a long, cold winter.  While I am busy canning tomatoes and freezing corn, the bees are stocking up their larder with goldenrod nectar.

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If you spend some time with plants- meditating on them, sitting amongst them- I think it is possible to get a feeling for their work and purpose.  Goldenrod is a very giving, humble, and yet glorious plant. It is as though it has soaked up an entire summer of sun and then reflects it back to the world, standing tall and yet head modestly, slightly bowed- gathering all along the roadsides to greet passers by and create a celebratory gold-lined path on many of our country roads. It is also anti-inflammatory and diuretic, having a number of uses as a healing herb.

In Julia Grave’s incredible book The Language of Plants: A Guide to the Doctrine of Signatures, she talks about the difference between “a single, showy flower” and “a group of flowers giving an impression as if they were one flower.” The latter “often have to do with our comportment in groups, or the unification of all our sub-parts, of self”.  In North American goldenrod, single flowers are grouped into little flowers which are then additionally grouped into a rod.  This is a “double grouping process”

“It is the flower essence for children who seek attention from the group by acting in a negative way. It will enable them to act in harmony with the group without needing negative attention… In whichever variation, grouped flowers play on the theme of the individual versus the larger human context.”

Julia also talks about the significance of the order in which a flower blooms.

“Most flowers along spikes bloom from the bottom up… they open their lowest flowers first… it is remarkable that Goldenrod blooms from above down… The whole gesture is one of preparing to go in after the outward gesture of summer... Blooming with a gesture of a warm glowing candle that burns downward, Goldenrod speaks of bringing in the energy.”

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When I see goldenrod now, I see a living, vibrant metaphor of my place in the cycle of the seasons; I remember to check in with myself and often find the busyness of autumn is truly burning my candle low, and I feel the stirrings of anticipation for the slower pace of winter.

To dye with it, you want only the blossoms, as leaves and stems will contribute a greenish tone to your dye pot. You can use the blossoms fresh or dried.  It is time consuming to strip the blossoms from the stems, so find a pleasant spot or some pleasant company and settle in!

Prior to dyeing your silk, you may wish to mordant it. This ensures the color stays vibrant and your dye job does not fade or rinse out. Some people use vinegar as a mordant, but I find alum to be more effective and the safest of the mordants.  Common consensus is to use 1/4 the weight of the item to be dyed worth of alum, and in my dye pot I generally do a few yards of silk with 1 tablespoon of alum and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Handle the alum carefully (do not inhale or eat!). It is also well-advised to have a reserved dye pot and not use your pot for cooking edibles if you use mordants in it. Enamelware pots (like those typically used for canning) make great dye pots.

To mordant your silk, add the alum and cream of tartar and enough water to completely cover your silk, with extra for evaporation, and let dissolve.  Then heat the water to a gentle simmer (do not boil- may ruin the sheen of the silk!) and allow the silk to soak for an hour.  Now, remove from heat and let soak overnight. When cooled, ring out but do not rinse. You can allow it to sit in a cool place for a few days and this will “set” the silk all the more.

The day before you dye, you’ll want to put your blossoms in the dye pot with enough water to cover the blossoms and silk you intend to use (do not add silk yet though), and extra to account for evaporation. Bring blossoms and water to a boil for 20 minutes; remove from heat and allow to soak overnight. You may wish to add tumeric or marigold if you would like a more vibrant yellow; I usually add a few petals of this flower (not sure of the name) that shoots up each year in our garden to herald September.

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Strain the flowers and add your silk to the pot (and perhaps some natural wool felt or natural roving if you wish!). Heat, but do not boil (this damages the sheen of the silk), stir well to distribute dye evenly and be sure silk is not folded up as this will effect dye distribution. After an hour, remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Rinse and dry- all done!

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Don’t forget to dry some goldenrod for later.  It will cheer you up and remind you of Indian summer during the dark winter.

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If you are dyeing a large piece of silk as I did for our nature table, this is a great tutorial on hand-hemming silk. If you are dying a pre-hemmed 35″ square silk and wish to turn it into a cape, you can simply tie two corners to fasten the cape or get fancy and fold one edge down about an inch or so, sew in place, and thread a finger-knitted yellow chain through the “sleeve” for a tie.


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Turning Work Into Play: “We Need To Tidy Our House Because…”

The house has been a bit of a disaster lately.  With a walking toddler on the loose, everything seems to land on the floor.  Trails of destruction follow in his cute little wake.  I don’t know how many times I’ve rescued older siblings’ pajamas from the toilet bowl this month, but I think I may just limit our potty breaks to the upstairs bathroom and use our downstairs latrine as a sensory table.

The older kids have begun to forget to put their own things away as they have adjusted to life with Little Mr. Messy and his constant mayhem.  It’s time to inspire them a little, and if *you* happen to have a nine year old boy you may know that those sweet little Waldorf tidying up songs that charmed your children in their early years no longer seem to spark that inner neat freak. So I’ve come up with the “We Need To Tidy Our House Because…” jar.  Every time I feel a tidying session is needed, to the jar goes a lucky child and decides our fate… which scenario will we face for the next 30 minutes of our lives?

BlogJar

  • The ruler of our kingdom has declared from hence day forth, every messy home shall be the royal habitat for thousands of our knights whom the wizard of our warring enemy kingdom has enchanted into angry skunks with diarrhea.
  • An angry obsessive compulsive gnome will cause mushrooms to sprout from the ears and spinach to sprout from the hair follicles of every child who does not keep their home tidy.  He will then harvest said mushrooms and spinach and feed it to the children every night for dinner.
  • Our home has been transformed into an ogre’s den and if we do not clean it before they return, the spell will remain and we will be ogre stew.
  • An evil fairy has cast a spell that turns every item in our house that is not in its proper place to slimy toads.
  • A mad scientist has devised a machine that will transport every messy home to a parallel universe where giant worms rule over humans and force them to eat chocolate fruity pasta three times a day (my eldest hates chocolate, my middle child detests fruit, and my four year old is a sworn member of the Pasta Haters 4Ever Club!).
  • The president is coming to visit and will offer our family a million dollar contract to teach genetically engineered monkey robots to clean the White House if we impress him with our spiffy janitorial abilities.
  • We are oppressed peasants from an impoverished medieval time who have traveled to the future and if we clean the house we have materialized in, we can keep it and stay forever.
  • An angry neat freak elf has enchanted our home and every speck of dust or dirt will transform to flesh eating fungus within an hour’s time.
  • Our family has received an offer from a mysterious philanthropist to donate $1000 to us for every room we clean in an hour.

How are you inspiring your kids to lend a helping hand these days? :)

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Guest Post- Kids And Knitting Go Hand-in-Hand

Today I am happy to welcome Elizabeth from Handwork Homeschool. She is here to inspire us with visions of handmade splendor!

 

Summer-time knitting – the perfect way to while away an afternoon.

The KNIT Lessons Handwork Homeschool

Ahhh, doesn’t that conjure up the most wonderful image of sitting under a shady tree, watching your little ones happily playing while you turn out piece after marvelous piece?

Perhaps, you have your favourite drink by your elbow, a stash of delicious yarn & a pair of magic knitting needles….  whoa… what?!

You may have dreamt this dream, but we all know that it’s a real trick to make it happen!

Knitting is pretty easy to learn but what about finding the time to actually knit ?


The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Oddly enough, whenever someone sees my children wearing a handknit sweater
or playing with a knitted toy, they are always shocked to find out that I made it!

They KNOW that I knit & yet, they always say, “but you HOMESCHOOL!!!
When do you find the time to knit along with everything else you do ???”

I just smile & look off into the distance – they don’t need to know all of my secrets
but I’ll share them with you!

One of the most amazing things about knitting is that you can build up a project bit by bit.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

“Every stitch counts!”

It is such a great feeling to knit a little bit everyday, especially when the rest of your day is filled with tasks that you have to do over & over –  laundry, dishes, making meals, sweeping floors, getting the groceries – you know you did them but sometimes, it feels like you didn’t actually accomplish anything all day.

That’s when a few rows of knitting can remind you that the
little things are worth doing
.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

If you’re a knitter,  you probably recognize the feeling that washes over
you once you settle down with your needles for a few minutes.

Did you know that it’s not all in your imagination?

Recently scientists have been doing studies into what knitting actually does
to your mind & body.  It’s calming & yet makes you incredibly alert at
the same time. The rhythmic act of making the stitches frees your mind to wander – allowing you to slip into a relaxed state almost instantly.

No mats, special clothes, babysitters or headstands necessary!

What other form of meditation can you practice while your kids are jumping
on the couch?!

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

The best thing is that you’ve got something to show for your work.
A little toy, a sweater for your babe or even a new pillow for that well-bounced couch.

Knitting can add so much to your life:

  • dazzling colours, patterns & textures to play with
  • time to think & create something of your own
  • a way for you to give a gift that will always be remembered

Speaking of gifts, teaching your child to knit has got to be one of the best
that you could ever give.  One that will increase in value as the years
pass.

At first, knitting will be a challenge, one that makes his brain tell his hands
to move in new ways.  Then after a while, he’ll begin to hone his skills of
perseverance & patience as he works to finish a project.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool
Before you know it, he’ll be making gifts for you.  He won’t know that
the little knit bag he made is only half of the present, the other part
is the shining look of joy in his eyes as you admire his work.

When I first found out about Waldorf, one of the main things that drew me to
it was the fact that handwork was included in the children’s regular lessons.
I really liked the idea that it was considered important enough to spend
time on along with the academic subjects.

As we’ve walked the homeschool “path”, I’ve watched my son & daughter
blossom & grow.  I’ve learned a lot about how to teach them & they’ve learned
how to have their Mama as their teacher.

When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t realize that knitting could affect them  on so many levels.   After more than 30 years of knitting (yes, it’s hard to believe…) & then teaching it to my son, I decided it was time to find out exactly why it was part of
Steiner’s first curriculum.

Oh, the things I’ve discovered!

This summer, I’m finally ready to share the course that I’ve been working on for years…

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When I first introduced my son to the fibre arts,  I was so excited.
The funny thing was, that I wasn’t sure what to do first!

I searched for a complete step-by-step course that would show me what to do &
when to do it.

Guess what?  I couldn’t find one.

So, I figured I’d better roll up my sleeves & create my own.

One that would teach the basics (stitches, starting, finishing) as well as  few
extras (shaping, colourwork) along with some creative work (designing
your own Tell-Tale Playscape) mixed in with a touch of theory (just HOW
will I teach my child to knit & WHEN?).

BONUS

If you enroll in the COMPLETE course before June 18th, you’ll also get access
to the all NEW mini-course,

“How to Write a Fantastic Container Story”

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

If you’d like to know more about The KNIT Lessons you can pop over HERE

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Before you go – let me tell you about one extra cool part of this course.

In keeping with my theme of making this course a real All-In-One Experience, I’ve teamed up with Becca here at Cedar Ring Circle to create some amazing
“The KNIT Lessons” kits.

Whether you take Babes ‘n’ Yarns (Part ONE), Tell-Tale Knits (Part TWO) or opt for
the complete The KNIT Lessons – Make YOUR Story – we’ve got one for you.

Each kit contains a complete collection of yarns & tools that are perfectly suited to make the exercises & projects during the course.  She’s giving you a fab deal
(better than retail prices) & you will get it all in this nice neat package… so after you purchase your course tuition, head on over to Cedar Ring Circle and pick up your materials.

The Knit Lessons Kit

It’s always great to save time AND money!

This summer, come on over to Handwork Homeschool  & join a global
community of knitters (a great mix of beginners, experts & everybody in between)
who are going to have a great time learning, making & imagining with some
yarn & a couple of “sticks”!

By the way,
there’ll be step-by-step video tutorials, all the virtual handholding
you want, printables & lots of FUN!

See you in class!

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P.S.  I’d like to thank Becca so much for sharing her spot on the ‘net
with me today & helping me make this course truly interactive!
This is the closest thing I can get to putting you in my car & driving you to the
nearest yarn shop!

Let’s learn & KNIT at Handwork Homeschool !


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Waldorf Moms Have LOTS To Look Forward To!

Why?

Great things are coming!

If you haven’t heard, here’s a little heads up.

1. Donna Ashton’s annual Waldorf Connection Global Homeschooling Expo is scheduled for June 13-15th, and it’s free!  She has put together a wonderful assortment of speakers, and you can listen from the comfort of your own home. It takes a lot of talent to contain the pure Waldorf power of both Eugene Schwarz and Marsha Johnson in one venue, but if anyone can, Donna can! And she’ll do it with finesse, because she’s like the Terry Gross of the Waldorf world.  I can’t wait to listen to Anne-Marie Fryer Wilboltt’s talk about using grains in a gluten-free world (one sort of feels like a rebel baking bread these days in the crunchy crowds, know what I mean?), and Ingun Schneider discuss the Extra Lesson and sensory issues.  But most of all, I am waiting with baited breath to hear Rick Tan explain how to tell my kids about the birds and the bees, Waldorf style.  No, not the actual birds and bees- *those* birds-and-bees. Wonder with me if you will… what kind of container story can we make up for this one?  Is there a fairytale that may magically bypass the awkward moments and impress upon our child’s psyche all he or she needs to know about the matter?  Do we plan a farm field trip and hope the animals are feeling frisky (I’ll admit, that has sort of been my plan until now but I am not sure if my son’s wives will appreciate it. PLEASE HELP ME, RICK!)? If I can’t tune in for anything else, *this* I need to know.

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2. From Handwork Homeschool, Elizabeth’s “The Knit Lessons“.  It is like a magical adventure through knitting, both to shore up your own newbie or intermediate skills AND your present-this-to-your-child skills, even if you yourself are an expert! After this course, your youngster will be knitting like a sailor.  Which is pretty much better than anything else they can do that a sailor would.  Drinking and cursing come to mind. LOL. You will also be guided through creating an entire fairytale scene in yarn, and it gets better…. Elizabeth and I have teamed up.  She will be offering the course, and I will be offering complete materials packages.  From sanding your dowel, to adding a cute little wooden cap to the end of it and polishing it smooth, to finger-spinning your own yarn from raw wool straight off the sheep, to a beautiful knitted playscpae- this course will be unlike any other available. Stay tuned for a course and materials scholarship opportunity!

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3. Affordable rocker boards! Yes, these things have taken the natural toy world by storm.  They began appearing in Waldorf early childhood classrooms years ago.  Who knew a bent piece of wood could be so versatile… so entertaining… so …expensive? After many requests from Cedar Ring Circle members, I teamed up with an Amish woodworker to create boards that would be a little easier on the budget.  My first batch sold out before I could even list them online, and I already have a growing list of buyers for the next batch, so I highly recommend pre-ordering one so little Johnny does not have to wait til he’s graduating from college to get one of these. Although it would make a fabulous graduation gift. :) Best of all, I am offering you, my fabulous blog readers, $10 off when you pre-order this week. Use the code ROCKNROLL.  That will make your board just $89 plus shipping (and will help me order the needed materials)!

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 Hope to “see you” at either the Expo or the Knit Lessons. And please share this post and help spread the news about all these wonderful things!

 

 

 


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In The Morning

My desk sits facing a large picture window where our backyard, acres and acres, stretches out over a gradual incline, topping off at the crest of a hill.  Mist has descended down from the hill, almost to our house. The ash tree just beyond the window is finally pushing forth new leaves; ash tend to be very late to awaken from their winter slumber.  I watch as the branches tremble when small winged guests make their landings, then groom themselves for a moment, and flit away.  The starling on an uppermost branch has quite the morning care ritual; so much tail feather shaking, under-wing preening, and looking about to see who may be watching.  Down below in the grass,  the dandelions have gone to seed and seem, in wispy globes, to be ghostlike orbs hovering- countless- everywhere.  Paired with the dense fog, the morning has an other-worldly quality. A bit eery, but very beautiful, and I am so thankful for the peace and stillness.  The children will wake soon, and I hope I can hold onto this feeling to come back to through the day when things get lively.

For a moment, I have a guilty feeling that I should be reading my Bible in these few moments of alone-ness as day breaks. Growing up, I was indoctrinated that the success of my spiritual path required this.  But, that never seems to start the day off right for me; it just leaves me confused, mind swirling as I try to make sense of what I read.   It very may well not even be the text that creates these feelings- but the fear that was layered through those pages by people who seemed to doubt any intrinsic attraction I might have to goodness, and instead, appealed to my sense of self preservation to convince me to embrace God. But I am not motivated by promises, by rewards, by threats, by punishments- they are all the same thing, an insult to my higher nature, a cat call to base impulse.  I am motivated by love, beauty, peace…  I find it just beyond my doorstep.

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Even the grass seems insanely beautiful with its coat of miniscule dew drops.

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This last one, the raindrop falling from the forsythia branch- it feels as though the branch is weeping and just brings tears to my own eyes.  It has been a long, hard year and only just this past month, has the hardness begun to yield to something in which I find comfort and a deep sense of peace again- I recognize them as long lost friends. I know there is both bitter and sweet; I am willing to taste both in the feast of life. Feist’s “So Sorry” plays through my head; I feel that I am singing it to the cosmos, acknowledging all the tantrums I threw in the face of difficulties and frustrations.  There is no guilt, more a fondness for and humor in the humanity of my response, and a knowing that I am so loved and accepted despite any inadequacies- and perhaps, because of them.

 

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