Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Muddy Afternoon

A friend of mine recently described the wonders of mud on a forum I'm involved in and I was thoroughly inspired to have some muddy fun of our own. Boy am I glad we got out there and down and dirty in the earth! Aria tends to be very 'heady' - always thinking, very wordy and obsessed with books. I've been trying to focus a wee bit lately on encouraging her to be more grounded and in her body (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, this is a Waldorf (Steiner) kind of outllook. Waldorf parents speak of the child 'growing down' in a sense as they come fully into their bodies. This is considered to be basically the main 'task' of early childhood. There's a lot more to it than this, but as I'm only just starting to study Anthroposophy I won't attempt to give a more detailed explanation. Donna Simmons from the Christopherus site has written a great post about it on the Christopherus blog). Playing around in mud is such a wonderful way to do this! She let out her trademark little Ooohs and Aaaaahs of pure glee as we patty-caked, stirred and squished. I think this grounding and getting out of the head by using the body was also fantastic for Mumma too!! What a clear-minded feeling. It brought back many memories of 'baking pies' under the house where I grew up in New Zealand as well.

Patty cake Patty cake...

"Dirty Mama"... um, yes!!

One content little Bubba

Aria's plate of food later became a hat

I also thought I'd just add a pic of the latest bit of knitting I've completed. I've been meaning to post about it for a while, but always seem to forget! A rainbow knitted Kimono for my Rainbow baby. I used this pattern and adapted it slightly (I needed to pick up all the stitches from around the bottom after I'd finished as it kept rolling up. A few rows of garter stitch fised the problem). I also knitted a little pixie cap using the same wool (I love this wool) earlier in the spring (you'll see this in photos on earlier posts).

She was such a busy bee this day, I was lucky to get a shot of her in frame!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Baking day - cookie goodness!

I recently came across an absolutely awesome flourless cookie recipe from the 'whole life nutrition kitchen' blog. What a brilliant find this blog is! All gluten free recipes with a focus on healthy whole foods, sugar free, elimination diet foods, dairy free, vegan - you get the picture... I had been so stuck as to what to feed myself and Aria (Daddy eats anything), but this has certainly solved that little problem! I used ground peanuts instead of almond butter as we had a whole unused container of the stuff in the fridge and we used 'Sweet William' chocolate as it is gluten and dairy free with very little sugar in it (I couldn't find Cocao nibs and we try and steer away from conventional chocolate). They turned out absolutely delicious - not going to last very long I expect!

Aria enjoyed grinding the flax seeds with me (or really watching and imitating, she didn't actually grind them!), pouring ingredients into the bowl, mixing, eating, mushing, and basically covering herself with the yummy concoction! Our first baking day was a thorough success (despite the heat - ovens and humidity don't pair well) and I'm looking forward to next week. 

Carefully watching as Mama grinds the seeds

Eager to have a go herself!


YUM!! What a mess! (We'll work on that for next time, hehe)


And thus concludes our first baking day.

Daily rhythms and the young child.

I've finally managed to integrate a rhythym into our home and I couldn't be happier about it! Other than the myriad of benefits for Aria, I've found that this really supports me as well. The natural rhythm carries me through the day when my brain is mush and my body is all chronic fatigued/fibromyalgia'd out! It has taken a number of months of trial and error in order for me to be able to follow through with my carefuly thought out plans and to subsequently find and settle on what actually works for us. I've needed to focus on my own healing journey quite strongly in order to move on from hovering around in a very sick and dark place. Now, while I still experience some of the syptoms, things are really looking up and I've finally been able do some of the things that mean I'm being the kind of mother I dearly want to be. As I've mentioned many times before, I'm greatly inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner (his educational methods are also refered to as 'Waldorf'). In his indications regarding the first 7yrs of life, Steiner talks about how important a rhythm is on all levels of the child's being.

I've been really amazed at how quickly Aria has learnt the order of things - (we've been doing it 'properly' for about a week). It brings me so much joy to know that we now have an environment that provides the space, safety and organic in/out breath that is needed as a foundation for her to grow forth from. Instead of anything happening kind of whenever or wherever (not that I ever meant it to be like that!), Aria knows that after we wash hands (while singing a washing hands song) we light the candle, and after that we say a verse of thanks, then we eat, wash hands and blow out the candle. She will then toddle off to grab her broom and we will both sweep while singing "this is the way we sweep the floor...". Next comes the dishes - Aria loves sitting on the bench with her own brush and cloth while we wash all the wooden dishes. She's actually a real help at loading the dishwasher afterwards too! To my amazement, after the dishes, Aria has gone to collect her special bed time book and brings it to me saying "sorey" (story). We then go off to our darkened bedroom for a story, lullabies, feed, lots of cuddles and her afternoon nap (sometimes I nod off too...) This cosy routine is so soothing for her (as she is proving to be quite a sensitive wee thing, this gives her a lot of security and connection.) I think it must be reassuring for her when we do things in the same order and in the same way each day.

 This is just a snippet of our daily rhythm, but it illustrates how smoothly things go. Before it was almost like everything was a surprise that she had to figure out. She wasn't as free to be herself or grow because she was constantly catching up with an adult world and sort of metaphorically chasing my tail. Now she has a context within which to learn new things at a pace which is suited to where she is at developmentally.

For us it's not really about having a timetable or a routine as such (some days things just take longer than others) - it's more about 'rhythm' (as Steiner indicates). An in breath is always followed by an out breath in nature (think of the seasons, the ocean tides, day/night etc). During our day we strive to always follow an 'in breath' (such as a nap or quiet time) with an 'out breath' (such as time outdoors, physical activity so as to feel in our bodies or baking, artsy stuff etc...), and vise versa. This seems to work really well for Aria. It sounds simple - but actually takes a fair bit of forward planning and clarity of mind to carry it out!

Another way in which the in/out breath scenario is supported in our day is having indoor and outdoor time. Aria is a nature girl and really thrives with at least 4hrs outside a day -(the majority of the morning is spent outside, then lunch and stories/sleep inside, then back outside for the afternoon until it is time to prepare dinner) - she also welcomes the contrast of coming inside, quitening down and cosying up. I've provided some links below that I have found inspiring on the matter however their are many, many more out there as well!

Useful links:
Nurturing young Children in the Waldorf Home - Christopherus website
rudolf steiner archive
waldorf at home forum
waldorf journey - a little garden flower blog
Seasons of Joy - Meal time rhythms
The Parenting Passageway - bringing rhtyhm to your baby

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beginning to needle felt

I've been asked recently if I have used patterns for my needle felting figures so I thought I'd post the tutorial (by Kay Petal) that gave me the start I needed. I began by constructing the basic shape described in this video and then added other colours of wool on top for the clothing using similar needling techniques. Kay has a fantastic blog and a whole array of needle felting tutorials on youtube. She also has a dvd and many other helpful products for sale from her 'felt alive' website


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Summer festivities

We had a very low key Christmas this year and really tried to focus on a peaceful, calm and joyous atmosphere. For the first time we celebrated christmas day at home - just the three of us! Our families were all 'otherwise engaged' so we celebrated (and had a fabulous time!) with them on alternative days. We are extremely blessed to have such a beautiful close and extended family.

 The scene is set, the night before christmas. A new table and chair (natural wooden matching chairs to come) with some exciting little packages on top. Aria had a wonderful time with Mumma splashing paint around on to brown paper to create the wrapping for all our gifts this year.

 Enthralled with her new faerie cards. The pictures are so gorgeous and she already has her favourite cards - 'vacation' and  'daughter' (funny that!) Her new wicker arm chair is in the background - she is near on obsessed with climbing up and down on this!

CRYSTALS! Her all time favourite things. Now she has her very own collection of precious stones. We also bought her some large shells. She truly is connected to nature and the elements!

Gifts from the faeries in our garden for the christmas table. 

 Everyone's favourite food - including some yummy dairy free icecream (made with Mumma's new icecream machine) for dessert...

 Aria is truly a fan of this one - Coconut milk, carob powder & agave nectar... mmmm.

Daddy's favourite is the berry sorbet - made very simply from berries, water and honey. My favourite is an icecream made from soy milk, 2eggs, really ripe apricots, 1 mango and lots of honey... heaven!!

Aria's dream bag - a gift from Auntie Kirsty (she always knows where this little girl's heart is!)

A birthday gift for our friend Lucy who had her first birthday party on new years day. This is 'Lucy the gnome' and her magic toad stool.

 Lucy's birthday party was a Myuna Farm. We had a wonderful time (except for when I thought Aria might like to hold a rabbit... apparently not!)


More holiday fun at the Botanic Gardens. Aria was captivated by the trees and lakes - so many vibrant summer blooms!

We walked passed this old fellow and Aria pointed at it very shaply and said "TREEEE" with the most serious look on her face! She was obviously quite taken aback! He certainly was majestically huge and regal.

 Aria's gift to mark the end of the festive season. I found it at a second hand market for $10. Daddy sanded and stained while Mumma made the cushion (which Aria keeps wanting to take off - it obviously doesn't go there in her mind!)

Fun playing in the sand and sea at our local beach.

 "Bird Dadda!"

"Pay" (plane) "aaaah"

This chapter of our Summer festivities is now coming to an end as Daddy goes back to work. We are now preparing for an extremely exciting change. We are busy packing, clearing out our house and envisaging life in our wonderful new nest! We are on the move to paradise...