Sunday, August 24, 2014

Whipple Dam

Zade is basically in his last year of pre-school, and Aria is now in 1st grade.  Here are some pictures we took to show them at the beginning of the school year.

Whipple Dam
We had a lot of fun going to the nearby lake and playing in the water and sand.  It's been a cool summer this year, without a lot of sun, but we did have a lovely sunny day on this Saturday and the kids enjoyed making sculptures in the sand.

Home School
We've begun our first big unit for school.  It's a 4 week language arts unit.  During the four weeks all the letters of the alphabet are introduced to the kids.  The letters are brought to the children creatively through a the story of a proud prince who must go on a quest with a wise woman in order to learn how to become a good king.  Additionally, famous fairy tales are woven into the story, such as the Golden Goose, which was told to the kids last week.  In order to make the story more fun, I made stick puppets to go along with the characters in the story.  In typical Waldorf fashion, I crafted them quite simply and did not create faces, so that the children could use their own imaginations. Aria already knows all her letters, so I am asking her to perform additional work.  While Zade only has to practice writing the letters, I have Aria write sentences about each of the characters in the story.

We also began painting this past week.  We are doing wet-on-wet watercolor painting.  We are using very nice professional painting paper and paints.  First grade is supposed to be primarily experiencing color.  Here the kids are painting with only red and blue.  I told them a story about how red came to the park bold and confident and then blue came, very shy in the corner, and then the story continues with each color meeting each other and their interactions together.  I realized that we should probably paint inside on the table after this experience because it left quite a mess on the sidewalk.

 Each letter is drawn to also represent a character from the story.  The kids draw these pictures also and put them in their portfolios.
Each day we do our calendar.  Zade usually picks out the number and Aria puts in the weather.
Here are some pictures from our summer picnic at Ms. Katrina's house.  Katrina brought her table and dishes and many of the toys outside for the children.  It was all set up beautifully.  The kids picked many vegetables and fruit from the garden again, and created a delicious salad.

 The kids are starting a music program called "Lets Play Music."  It's supposed to help the kids internalize music theory through singing and games.
Ryzen is continuing to make progress toward walking.  He now pushes things along the floor, like his high chair, and walks along small tables.  He is much more willing to walk if someone is holding his hands, and even with just one hand.  Some fun things about Ryzen- He loves balls of kinds, and every time he sees a ball he says, "Ball!" He also insists on feeding himself and has become quite adapt at using a fork and spoon.  In fact, he will not let anyone feed him, and if we do, he comes very upset.  In the morning he likes to eat part of my oatmeal in his own bowl, or else cheerios with milk.  Ryzen loves animals, especially dogs.  Every time we go by our neighbors that owns a dog, he says, "Dog! Dog!" Ryzen loves me to read him stories, although he is not very patient and usually doesn't let me finish the story I start before he grabs a new book.  He especially likes me to read, "This Little Piggy," and play with his toes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


After much hard work and practice, Aria (age 6) and Zade (age 4) have both learned to ride their bikes without training wheels.  We're very proud of their hard work.  One thing that I think helped motivate Zade was hearing Dane tell him how terrible Dane was when he was learning to ride a bike.  Glad that suffering could help someone else. :)

Color Festival

Organic Farm Festival
I (Tara) took the kids to the Pennsylvania Organic Farm Festival  this week.  I was especially excited to take the kids to the festival because they had an entire section for the fiber arts.  I never knew much about the world of fiber arts, but now that we are going to home-school using a Waldorf curriculum, a part of the curriculum includes teaching the kids to knit and work with wool. At the festival we got to see where wool comes form- by shearing sheep!

We also learned how to dye wool and other materials using natural sources such as flowers, mushrooms, and even insects!
 Aria and Zade had the opportunity to card the wool, which aligns the wool fibers in preparation for spinning.
This lady spun the wool that Aria and Zade carded and then gave them small rolls of yarn to keep.  It was fun to see a spinning wheel since we often read about spinning wheels in stories, but don't often get to actually see someone using one.

In addition to the fiber arts section, the kids listened to live music, brushed pigs, watched a traditional blacksmith at work (of particular interest to Zade) and Aria got her face painted as a panda- her favorite animal.

Home School Begins
This week we officially started our home school program. We are using the Christopherus First Grade Curriculum, a Waldorf based home-school program. I never even considered home-schooling my children before this past year, but now that I have decided to do it, I can't imagine anything better.  It helps that I have found a curriculum and philosophy of thought that truly inspires me.  Reading Waldorf inspired books has helped me to slow down in life and simplify.  I have learned that the best things in life are simple- like reading a great story to my kids on the front lawn and eating food freshly picked from a garden.  One does not need to own much to be happy.  I enjoy playing board games with my kids, cuddling with them in bed, and singing songs.  Since I have embraced this new philosophy of life, my children seem calmer too.  We have turned off all t.v. except for one movie a week.  The kids rarely ask for t.v. and are very content to make-up games together, pound logs with hammers, and create things with string, tape and cardboard.

 I feel my role as a parent has deepened in purpose. Not only am I here to feed my children, wash their clothes, and drive them places, but I am here to show them the world and to teach them about the world.  It is much harder to have this role when a child is in school all day.  The child comes home tired from school, and then there are extra-curricular activities and homework.  Home-schooling allows us to be on our own schedule.  Each day is wide open for us to experience and discover things together. I am also learning new things, as I strive to do my best to teach my children.  It is extremely fulfilling.  When pondering in the car whether or not I should home-school, I had this poem come into my mind, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." I believe that God's spirit can direct us for good, if we ask for direction and are open to divine communication.  Every time I have followed the direction God has given me, I have been led down a path that has ultimately been to my greatest advantage.  It may not always be the easiest road, but it is always the one most worth taking.

This past week, Aria learned to knit.

Zade had fun doing a simple knitting loom.
Our first activity of each day is chores!  We try to sing while we clean to make it more fun.

Maple Hill Garden
I feel very blessed to have met friends who also home-school and follow a similar philosophy of thought. This summer the kids have gone once a week to a home-school group run by my friend Katrina.  Katrina knows much more about Waldorf then I, as she has been homeschooling her daughter for many years.  The kids have had fun picking food from her very large garden, including unusual things like various edible flower petals.  They've made delicious salads, and muffins while at her house.  They even pick mint and put it in the water to drink. Here the kids are chopping up food for the salad.
Katrina's home is clean, simple and beautiful.  All of the toys for the children are made out of natural materials like wood, cloth, silk or wool.


KOA Camping
I really wanted to go camping, but given how busy Dane is at work, and how hard it is to go with 3 little kids, we compromised and rented a little KOA cabin out near Butler, PA, approximiately 2.5 hours west of State College.
Now that's what Dane calls camping. :)

We were surprised to find out that the KOA had a bunch of different activities for kids, like a huge bouncing pad, which the kids absolutely loved.  
Ryzen especially liked being bounced into the air by everyone on the bouncer.

Zade was a big fan of the pirate ship playground.

Color Festival
After camping, we headed out to the color festival that was being held in the area.  You basically show up, buy some bags of environmentally-friendly colored powder, which you can throw at each other.  So here's how everything started.  Fairly simple, and clean: 
Then it got a little crazier.
Until everyone started getting really dirty. :)

At various times in the festival they would call everyone together for a "color toss", where people would grab a bunch of colored powder and throw it up into the air.
This got everyone spattered in all sorts of colors.
I don't know if this picture truly does justice to how totally covered in color we all got.
By the end, it was pretty out of control.  Each of us had a good time.