Posts Tagged "holidays"

Perpetual Calendar

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 in Learning | 3 comments

Perpetual Calendar

Last month, during the Back-to-School excitement, I wrote about feeling like my little homeschooled Kindergarten boy might be missing out on some of the fun things about actually going to a school. Among the things I remember from Kindergarten was sitting on the carpet every day and talking about what day it was on the calendar. Rain is getting old enough that he can begin to grasp the idea of days and weeks and has been asking about time a lot. I thought this was a good time to introduce the calendar to him. Besides that, one of the things we are focusing on in our learning this year is the idea of rhythm, or cycles. I am borrowing this concept from some of my reading on the Waldorf philosophy earlier this year. Waldorf places a strong emphasis on celebrating yearly festivals, including birthdays, on the seasons and rhythm in the natural world, and on rhythms during the day. Using this as an over-arching theme works well during this Kindergarten year as it provides us opportunity to go on nature walks, to keep a nature table, to learn about natural science and seasons, to learn about festivals around the world (Humanities) and to incorporate lots of cool crafts. But on top of all that, it gives me an opportunity to help Rain understand what it means to wait 5 minutes, or until Saturday—practical stuff (oh yeah, with a bit of math and reading in there too as he learns to recognize numbers and words). I wanted a hands-on calendar, kind of like I remember from school where we each got a turn putting up the number for the day. Last winter, I made an advent calendar that didn’t involve daily presents or chocolates and my google image search for magnetic advent calendars yielded up a bunch of different ideas. I decided to adapt one of them to our present use. Here is the result: To make this, you’ll need: 12 sheets of scrapbook paper in patterns that represent each month Letter size magnet sheets (you can get printable magnet sheets in this size at office supply stores like Staples. Maybe you can find something similar at Michael’s or another craft store. It doesn’t need to be printable. It just needs to be big.) Letter size clear printable labels Rubber cement Decide on the dimensions you want for each piece. For the months, I used 7cm x 28cm. I was able to fit 3 months per magnet sheet. For the days, I used 4 cm x 4 cm and I was able to fit all 31 days on 1 magnet sheet. Trim the scrapbook paper to these dimensions and carefully rubber cement it on to the magnet sheets. Now, trim the magnets to their final sizes. You can use Word or another computer program with lots of fonts to print the numbers and the names of the months and days on to your clear labels. You might be able to print all of it on just a couple of sheets of labels, depending on the size of font you use and how you space them together. Just make sure you leave a bit of room for trimming them. Trim, peel off the backing and stick them on your magnets to create 12 months, 7 days of the week and 31 dates. Stick them to the fridge. We also made some extra magnets for marking important dates. We also have plans to make some that show the weather. Have fun! (It’s not as complicated as it...

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Take back your holidays from Hallmark

Posted on Feb 13, 2010 in Featured | 3 comments

Take back your holidays from Hallmark

I already had a post written and scheduled for Valentine’s Day…not about Valentine’s Day, but about love in a way. Then I read Amber’s post at Strocel.com about having The Valentine’s Blues. There were a lot of comments echoing her blues and they are generally representative of what I hear over and over. I’ve often felt that way too. My husband used to say the same things but I told him that I thought his attitude was a cop-out. It is what you make it. First, we can lower our expectations. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be the most romantic day of the year. Acknowledging our love for each other doesn’t have to be a grand gesture and it doesn’t have to be expensive. We can be satisfied with something thoughtful and heartfelt rather than expecting fireworks year after year. Valentine’s Day can just be an opportunity to tell each other how we feel. We aren’t excused from doing it the rest of the year. It’s just an acknowledgement that we can get busy and forgetful, that we often take our love for granted after many years. It’s kind of nice to have a day set aside to remind us that love is a verb, an action, not a feeling. I feel like why not take that opportunity? Why shun the whole idea just because a lot of it in our culture has gotten warped and twisted? I don’t like the commercialism of Christmas but I can choose to celebrate the holiday in a way that is authentic to me. Secondly, it doesn’t have to be a hallmark holiday. We don’t buy cards, flowers or chocolate. We often do something small and simple. One year, Aaron took red electrical tape and made heart shapes all over Eliza’s ceiling before he left for work so I got a surprise when I got up. That was all he did that day but it was touching and sweet. The next year, he made white paper hearts and hung them from strings. One year, I wrote a 100 things I love about him on tiny slips of paper and hid them for Aaron to find. This year, I’m planning to tape coloured hearts on the floor in a trail leading from beds to hiding spots for some gifts for each family member to discover when they wake tomorrow morning. An (oft-begged for) umbrella for Rain, a pair of shoes for Noa and some import beer for Aaron with little notes about why I love them. There doesn’t have to be anything Hallmark about your holidays. You can choose how you celebrate. You don’t have to fall into the hype and expectations. When I was single, I too felt that Valentine-less angst and that was probably when I felt the most cynical about it. I certainly do understand that it can make people feel left out. Yet, one of my best Valentine’s Days ever was the year that a single guy friend and I decided to spend it together. We exchanged gifts (chocolates and flowers), had an awesome dinner at a vegetarian Indian restaurant and went for a long walk around the seawall in Vancouver. It was such a fun acknowledgement of the day and of our friendship  (which never went further, if you’re wondering). It really showed me that I am in charge of how I approach a supposed Hallmark Holiday. Since then, I’ve also chosen to extend the day beyond just my partner. Now that Rain is in preschool (and soon Kindergarten), there is the expectation of celebrating with his peers. This is kind of complicated because I don’t want to encourage the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing at such a young age and besides, the classes usually (rightfully) ask that Valentines are sent for everyone in the class. It is a fun holiday for kids with the opportunities for crafts, the hearts, the treats and the ultimate for most kids: getting cards (kid equivalent to mail). For our family then, I started extending it into our home. It doesn’t have to be a...

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Vision

Posted on Jan 4, 2010 in Featured | 3 comments

Vision

2010 is our time to turn our eyes to the future, to look ahead and figure out where the road might be leading. The word for 2010 is VISION. This is the year to find our feet, develop our vision and begin the task of building. We are in a unique position to carry forward the lessons in being present and being mindful from 2009 and place them in the context of what do we need to do today to make tomorrow a reality? This is going to be an exciting year, not because a lot of things will happen but because we will be able to see what is coming. The big rocks for 2010 are: Rain starts Kindergarten – where and what that looks like TBA Continue with self-sufficiency and creativity projects Continue to grow our business Reduce/eliminate debt load Mindful parenting & positive discipline Self-care (reading, writing and figuring out how my hopes and dreams intersect with my hopes and dreams for my family) I have quite a few specific goals that I won’t list here. Maybe I’ll do a monthly goal post just to keep me accountable. At the very least, expect more news about the future vision and the direction of those calls with my sister as the vision gets clearer. How about you? What’s on the table for...

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Paperless Christmas

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 in Simple Living | 3 comments

Paperless Christmas

This is the second year in a row that we opted not to buy any paper wrapping for Christmas. Last year we started using cloth for all of our wrapping. We store it in a bin and plan to re-use it every year. We do run into some issues with gifts given outside the family because I have a hard time giving away the cloth and not getting it back. This is primarily an issue of finances at the moment because we don’t have the funds to replace it. Plus, I would like to know that the recipients would use it again and not toss it or else it defeats the purpose. For now, we’ve been using up the last scraps of paper and gift bags from other years on friends. But we are finally out so next year will truly be 100% paperless for us. Ribbon We save ribbon whenever we get gifts and toss it in the bin so we have quite a stash now. I’ve noticed that many people use cloth ribbon even on paper wrapped gifts and I never ever let it go to waste. I also picked up a few rolls of ribbon on sale at the dollar store after Christmas last year. The rolls were deceptively sparse (very big cardboard tube inside) but there was still a perfect size piece for 1 wrap job. Cloth I went to the fabric store early in December last year and bought fat quarters from the quilting section. There were lots of Christmas prints to choose from and the cloth was already cut into usable pieces. This was a little pricey but I’m sure you could find good deals if you were to visit the quilting section now as they would be selling off the Christmas stock. My husband saw some Christmas dish towels at a dollar store on sale a few days before Christmas last year and picked those up. They work perfect and it’s nice to have some pieces that are bigger than the fat quarters. They are a little stiff but they do work well with the ribbon. Next year I plan to pick up some fabric by the yard for bigger items and also to sew into draw string bags of various sizes. Even my mother-in-law has gotten in the spirit. Last year she bought each of the kids a new beach towel and used that to wrap their gifts. This year, they each got a new blanket as wrapping and we got a new table cloth around our gift. There are lots of ways to be creative and get rid of paper wrapping. Technique You can tie the cloth in various ways according to Furoshiki. Here is a good how-to page with pictures showing techniques for various sizes and types of objects. It’s fun and doesn’t require any ribbon. You’ll need soft cloth though that is pliable and easy to manipulate. The fat quarters work well for this as they were thin cotton. Otherwise, wrap as you normally would and use ribbon to tie in place. You might need another person to hold the cloth for you while you get it tied but that doesn’t happen too often. It’s also pretty easy to adjust the fabric and tuck in stray bits once the ribbon is tied. The biggest issue I ran into this year was not having pieces small enough for stocking items. I think the drawstring bags would work well for this or we could choose not to wrap stocking items. Overall, paperless Christmas was another big success this year! I love the look, it’s easier for the kids to unwrap gifts, there is less garbage to clean up and dispose of and it’s a lot more fun and creative than buying paper from the...

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Choosing Less

Posted on Dec 28, 2009 in Featured, Simple Living | 3 comments

Choosing Less

This year we made the decision to stay home for the holidays. Having moved last year and now living away from our families, this meant it was our first Christmas just the four of us. No grandparents. No cousins. No aunts or uncles. Just us. In our own house. Though finances did have a big part in that decision, there was definitely some choice. The choice to forgo the big family Christmas was made because it would be easier on all of us. We gave up the time with our parents and siblings so that we could sleep in our own beds, get our own Christmas tree (for the first time!), eat on our schedule and spend time with our kids (rather than chase them down as they run around with cousins). Though some of this was selfish (because I wanted things to be more stress-free), it was also about doing what was best for the kids. Travel is hard on little ones who thrive on routine, who sleep better in familiar surroundings with a predictable bed time. Visiting family often means missed naps, late dinners, late nights. The result is that the holiday is often exhausting for everyone in the end. So we chose to let go of some traditions and stay home. I’ve been reading Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. In her chapter on Holidays and Vacations, she says Unfortunately, we are often drained by baking, shopping, entertaining, cleaning, driving or other activities. When our kids need us the most we’re not available. Sometimes in order to bring joy to the holidays and vacations we have to let go. Traditions are supposed to be fun—an opportunity to come together as a family and celebrate. We collect them as we go along, gathering some from the family we grew up in, from our spouse’s family, and from friends. The result can be an overload of traditions. Too many should that lose their joy. We were on the right track when we chose to stay home this year and focus on the needs of our young children. Being home, however, meant that I could try to do more myself. Homemade Advent Calendar, special meals for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, homemade gifts to finish on deadline, potlucks to attend, dresses to sew. Considering I am still waking with a nursing toddler 3-4 times per night, I don’t have the luxury of staying up to squeeze everything in during the late night hours. Out of necessity, I started dropping things off the to-do list. I chose to do less. I gave up the tradition of pumpkin pie since making pastry was just too much work when only two of us would even eat the pie. We had crème brulée instead. It was easy to make and it was divine. I sewed one dress as a gift but didn’t get to the one for my daughter to wear for Christmas. We had a pj day instead. I got the blanket I was knitting sewn together but I left the trim for after Christmas. The passage from Raising Your Spirited Child really resonated with me today because it reminded me that letting go is best not just for ourselves. It also helps us be more present with our kids. If we are less stressed and haggared by the flurry of holiday shoulds, we feel better, we have more fun and there is more of us still functioning to help our kids through. Holidays are exciting and even at home in our familiar surroundings, it gets a little out of whack for little ones. School’s out, treats are in, routines get loosened. At such a busy time our kids need us more. Sometimes it feels like the long list of things to do is for the kids, that we are making the holidays special for them. But if we were to ask our kids we might find that they’d rather have less traditions and more time with...

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