My cucumbers make me happy

Yes, it’s true. My cucumbers make me happy. No, no, no. Not the happy Superbowl banned PETA ad kind of way. C’mon, people. Get your mind out of the gutter. ;)

This morning as I was packing my kids’ lunches for summer camp (they go two days per week to the Waldorf preschool that Ava has attended the past two years), I made a sandwich wrap, put in some organic blueberries and some Goldfish crackers from BlogHer (yes, we’re eating the swag). I wanted to throw in a vegetable as well, but only had carrots and spinach in the fridge and wasn’t excited about sending either. That’s when I remembered, I have vegetables growing right in my backyard!

I walked about 20 steps out my backdoor, into my garden, plucked a cucumber off the vine, brought it into the house and sliced it for their lunches. Problem solved!

It’s moments like this that I’m so happy to have my little organic garden. Although it hasn’t turned out to be quite what I wanted it to be this year, I have learned and continue to learn a lot and am enjoying the experience, even if it includes digging up plants and repotting them in pots so I can move them to where the sun is. ;) We might not ever get eggplants, carrots or zucchini in our garden this year (due to enormous amounts of shade), but we will have cucumbers. Lots and lots of cucumbers. And that makes me happy.

Don’t miss a single CDG post, subscribe to my blog.

Crafting pizza, mail, and sachets out of felt!

I’m not usually a very crafty person. I would like to be, but I just haven’t gone there yet and figure I have enough things to occupy my time without adding crafts to the mix too. ;)

However, in the spirit of the No Plastic Holiday Challenge (which means no gifts with plastic, not refraining from buying using plastic i.e. your credit cards, although that’s a good idea too), I’m forcing myself to get crafty. I’ve come across more cute homemade kid present ideas on blogs lately than I can recall, but I’ve settled on a few that I want to give a try.

felt play pizzaThe first is this homemade play pizza set made out of felt. No sewing involved, which is a definite plus in my book. Even though I have my mom’s old sewing machine, I have no idea how to thread it. I want to make two of these – one for each kid.

Photo courtesy of: Pink and Green Mama

mail setThe next thing that I want to try making is this Jolly Little Postal Worker set. This one requires some sewing, but I think I could do it by hand pretty easily. Ava loves to play “mail,” so I think she’d get a kick out of this and I’m sure Julian would be happy to join in on the fun. It’s not made out of felt in the instructions, but I’m enjoying working with felt and think that’s probably what I will use. Photo courtesy of: Craft Pad

That’s all I have planned so far for the kids, but I’m extending my craftiness to include some family member gifts too. I got the idea to make sachets from my friend Julie (who has yet to blog about it or I’d link to her post *nudge, nudge*). Basically, I’m sewing (by hand) the homemade felt sachetperson’s first initial on one of two small pieces of felt, then taking two small squares of felt and sewing them together with yarn and putting a loop of ribbon at the top (in case the recipient wants to hang it instead of put it in a drawer). Then the sachets will be stuffed with wool (if I can find a local place to buy some) that is scented with essential oils. I chose to use lavender and sweet orange.

Ava is really big on sewing these days (thank you, Waldorf preschool) and will be able to do a little of the stitching (we use thicker needles so she’s less apt to poke herself), and I think Julian will get in on the stuffing part. I like that they can get involved in the gift making this way. I made a test sachet tonight for Ava – pictured at left – and stuffed it with cotton balls, because I was desperate and do not yet have any wool. It’s not perfect, but I thought it turned out pretty cute. The nice thing is it was quick and easy to make and if I can get the kids involved in the process, it will make the little gifts that much more meaningful to the recipient. And now as I sit here looking at this sachet, I’m thinking we might make some felt ornaments too. Same process, but we won’t have to scent the wool. Cool! :)

So those are my upcoming craft projects. Between the crafts and the leadership role I’ve taken on (with a few others) for the urban hen movement (we’re working on a petition and will be hosting a public educational urban hen meeting in a couple weeks), I’m going to have a very busy December.

How about you? Do you have any craft projects you are currently working on? Care to share links? I’m always amazed at the things other people come up with and I could seriously read craft blogs all day. Ya know, in my spare time. ;)

Is home schooling right for us?

When I started down my crunchy parenting path over four years ago, I think several people assumed that when the time came, I would home school my kids. I figured then that I would consider it, but it seemed like ages away and I never really gave it much thought. Well, that time is now rapidly approaching.

At age 3, I started sending Ava to an amazing Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool. It wasn’t a surprise at all to me that she thrived there and, despite the cost, I didn’t hesitate for a second before signing her up for her second year this year. She’s had a great experience there with a wonderful teacher. In fact it’s been so good that I’ve even considered sending her to a Waldorf school for kindergarten through eighth grade. I think if it weren’t for the money involved (think college tuition), she’d be going there in a heartbeat. But since we are not independently wealthy, nor do I feel are we financially-hurting enough to qualify for massive financial aid, that doesn’t seem to be a viable option.

That has lead me to exploring our public school options. There are a few public charter schools in our district, a public International Baccalaureate school, as well as many traditional public schools. Because we live in an area with open enrollment, we could potentially send Ava to any one of those schools come next fall. The question is – which one is right for her?

I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the options (I do better with limited choices) and, while I haven’t actually visited any of the schools in person yet (I have talked with some moms about where they are sending their kids), I haven’t felt peaceful about the whole process.

That leads me to a conversation I had with another mom while at Ava’s friend’s birthday party last weekend. She intends to home school her kids, at least initially. She told me about a local home schooling co-op and gave me the name of a Yahoo! Group of local home school support group. And that’s when it suddenly started to seem (again) like something that could potentially be an option for us.

I’ve kind of been of the mindset lately that I couldn’t handle home schooling. That I wouldn’t be any good at it and that Ava needs to be with other kids all of the time. After all, she is a very social kid. But then I joined the Yahoo! Group and discovered that they meet regularly for play dates and have many activities together and that there are a lot of other ways for home schooled kids to be a part of social activities. The more I read, the more I think this might be right for us, at least on a trial basis. We could try it for kindergarten and if it works well, great! If not, then it’s back to square one and finding the right school.

We have been talking about kindergarten a little bit here and there lately, especially because one of Ava’s friends from preschool last year goes to the “big” Waldorf school now and we just saw her over the weekend at the Harvest Faire. So, in an effort to gauge Ava’s thoughts on the matter, I mentioned to her that I have been thinking about home schooling next year. I asked her if she knew what it meant and who her teacher would be and she did. And she said it was a “great idea.” I actually expected her to be more reluctant, but it’s good to know that she (at least in theory) is on board.

I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately end up deciding. I still want to visit at least a couple of the elementary schools that are  on the top of my list, but I have to admit since I started considering home schooling, I feel so much more peaceful and even a little excited. I know there’s still a lot I need to research, but I’m confident we’ll find our way.

Are there any home schoolers out there that want to share any resources, links to curriculum, etc. with me? Thanks in advance. :)

Photo credit: Flickr: brandijordan

Don’t miss a single CDG post, subscribe to my blog.

Best Shot Monday – 5/19/08

I’ve been slacking in the photography department and am going to use today’s post as an attempt to play catch up. My “best shot” will be at the end.

Between my birthday, Mother’s Day, Ava’s preschool May Pole Celebration, and every day life, there have been a lot of photo ops lately. Here are just a few (from the point & shoot and SLR). Oh, and I should mention I didn’t take the ones that I’m in. (Mouse over for captions.)

Julian LOVES his fruit. (Shirt from Polly Tod):
Julian eats a pear while wearing his “I love fruit” shirt - 5/4/08

My 33rd birthday (with a delicious carrot cake made by yours truly):
Happy birthday to me - 5/7/08Me and the kiddos - 5/7/08Julian is very eager to get his hands on the cake - 5/7/08

Mother’s Day:
a Mother’s Day walk with Julian and Ava - 5/11/08

The kids playing in the yard:
Julian in his new hat - 5/12/08Ava on the “new” playset - 5/12/08

I couldn’t pass up this photo op when I woke up before everyone else Saturday morning. Julian and daddy co-sleeping. :
Julian cosleeping with Daddy - 5/17/08

Ava’s Waldorf preschool May pole festivities:
Ava waiting patiently for her “crown” at the Maypole Celebration - 5/17/08Miss G putting on Ava’s Maypole crown - 5/17/08Watching her friend get her crown - 5/17/08Maypole dancing and singing - 5/17/08

More Maypole dancing - 5/17/08

– And my BSM –
You give a boy ONE piece of chocolate, step away for two minutes, and this is what happens…

Chocolate-faced Jules - 5/9/08
(Shirt from Trendy Tadpole)

Head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

red BSM button


Today I celebrate my 33rd birthday. Thirty-three years of laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, learning, growing, evolving, loving, living.

For some reason, this number – 33 – has been hard for me. Perhaps because I’m nearly one-third of a century (gah) old now. Perhaps because the days, weeks, months and years seem to be going by faster and faster than ever before. Perhaps because I’ve been taking a mental inventory of my life and haven’t been particularly happy with some of my discoveries. Perhaps a combination of these things.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, a charmed life. But I’ve recently had to be honest with myself about how much I can realistically commit to doing and still feel good about the kind of parent I am. I want to do it all. All of us moms do. We want to juggle all of the balls and keep them all up in the air, and, if we drop one (because invariably we will), we don’t want anyone to see it.

I’ve been getting more and more comments lately from people saying they don’t know how I keep it all together or how I do so much. I tend to answer the same way, telling them that it’s hard and I’m still working on finding that perfect balance, but the truth is when someone seems to be doing it all and have all of their sh*t together, you can rest assured that they are falling behind in at least one area (probably more) of their life. I know it was happening to me.

And so I’ve chosen to cut back on some commitments (though it was very hard to) and not take on new ones (even though they were appealing) in an effort to focus more time on the things that really matter – my children and my husband.

Jody and I had a parent-teacher conference with Ava’s Waldorf preschool teacher last night and she raved about what a delight Ava is. Ava is “fiery” (no surprise to us to hear that word), but a real joy. I love hearing about how well she is doing in school and how much her teacher appreciates her. It’s sometimes easier for me to focus on the bad and overlook the good and this was a good reminder for me that she really is an amazing kid.

Julian strung together his first two-word phrase last night. “Hol’ me.” (Hold me.) He said it first to Jody, but later to me as well. He’s been talking more and more the past couple of weeks, but this in particular was oh. so. very. sweet.

I don’t have any special plans for today, and that’s OK with me. I intend on spending some good quality time with the kids and enlisting Ava’s help in baking my cake. I think we’ll go with carrot cake and cream cheese frosting made from scratch. Mmmm. Perhaps we’ll play outside for a bit. Perhaps we’ll read some books. Perhaps I’ll focus on just how amazing these first 33 years of my life have been, how blessed I am, and make a wish for more of the same in my next 33.

It’s not every day you’re quoted in an ABCNews article

Preschoolers Behaving Badly: Expulsions Rise

No, no, no. Please don’t get the wrong idea. Ava did NOT get expelled from preschool or any such thing, but I did get the opportunity to contribute my thoughts regarding a Yale University study that showed bad behavior and preschool expulsions are on the rise. Check out the top of page 3. Go ahead. I’ll wait. ;)

While I wish the journalist would’ve used more of what I said regarding gentle discipline, I felt that I came across sounding OK. (Hopefully it doesn’t make Ava sound like a bully either because she is certainly nowhere near that. She is a 3-year-old and she does react physically and emotionally at times, as I suspect most 3-year-olds do.) I would’ve loved to talk more about the type of preschool (Waldorf-inspired) Ava attends (which is a small in-home play-based school), but that wasn’t really germane to the article. Or was it?

One of the things I love about Waldorf preschool (and the Waldorf philosophy in general) is that it encourages imagination and creativity through free play and natural toys. Things like learning letters, numbers and how to read are not a part of Waldorf preschool. In fact, they don’t believe in teaching kids to read and write until they are *gasp* 7 years old. Honestly, when I learned that, my initial thought was that it seemed kind of late. However the more I thought about it and the more I learned about Waldorf the more it made sense to me.

Kids are only kids once. Why do we have to rush them into academia? Why can’t we let them be kids? Being a child should be about exploring his/her world and learning through play and imitation. They have the rest of their lives to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. That being said, I also acknowledge that different types of schooling and education work for different kids and Waldorf is not for everyone, but it seems to fit well with Ava so far. I feel fortunate in that we each have a choice regarding what works best for our children.

While I don’t know if we will continue with Waldorf education past preschool, I do know that holding off on formally teaching reading until age 7 doesn’t seem that odd to me anymore. I don’t want to deny Ava (or Julian) the experience of being a child where they can play, explore, and imagine to their heart’s content. In the meantime it’s not like Ava isn’t learning letters, counting, numbers, etc. at home. I mean, it’s a part of life and she’s definitely exposed to it, but I am happy that for her preschool is a place where she can play and explore her creativity and imagination. It works for us. :)