Monday, May 30, 2011

Projects in the Work

Just a few projects in the works around the house. I would love to say that I created these on my own, but I am not that creative. I do love finding projects and putting my own flare on the ideas. I am not alone in these projects. Viking Dad is building a "Carrier" for our Son who has been in love with airplanes since he was born. His other passion are trains and it is common to see an airfield in the middle of an elaborate train tract.
I am working on at least three or four projects at one time with about three more in the planning stages.

I learned to knit last fall. I found this pattern for these adorable Waldorf inspired dolls on a website/blog called Wee Folk Art. I love their site and often go there for inspirational ideas. The patterns for the dolls are easy to follow even for this novice knitter. You can find the patterns here.

The large 12" doll was made for my Daughter. She loves the story Pinkalicious and had asked for a pink dolly. The dolls hair is a combination of Lion Brand Yarn Nature's Choice Organic Cotton "Strawberry" and "Petits Four." The additional wild colored yarn in the hair came from a store in La Mesa, California called Two Sisters and Ewe
The 10" purple doll is going to be the "Sister" doll to Pinkalicious. She will have equally crazy hair when she is done.

I am kinda of known for my Little Wee Fairies and Folks. They tend to pop up around birthday parties, as gifts, seasonal give away and "just because" gifts. One is always being created or birthed. I originally got the ideas and patterns from a book called Felt Wee Folk. I had picked it up at Michael's Crafts. I was a bit frustrated when I found that the store didn't have any of the supplies listed in the book. I went home and started surfing the internet. This Viking Type A Hippy Mommy was determine to find the yummy supplies shown in the book. That is how I found Wee Folk Art who had an advertisement for A Child's Dream Come True which had ALL the supplies. The author of the Felt Wee Folk has her own studio. It is fun to explore.Check out Wee Folk Studio.

This last fall Viking Dad taught me how to knit. I needed something to keep my hands busy and mind alert while I recovered from breaking my leg last summer. I am actually knitting a hat in the round. I found the pattern Lion Brand Yarn.
I like their site because they have projects for novices, like me, to advance. They have great tutorials and a "oh my Gods I have this mass of knots what now!" help page. Well, it's not exactly called that but they do have a section to help untangle those massive knots.

Aircraft Carrier in the works.
The truly creative person in the house is Viking Dad. I love having the ability to say, "Honey, I want something like this" (making hand gestures and troglodyte level drawings) and Viking Dad will build Herot. Our Son has picked up his Mom's talent of saying "Dad I want...." and the two will sit down in an afternoon and create what ever idea he's comes up with. This afternoon was no exception. Our Son loves airplanes. Last year Viking Dad drew out an accurate airfield. This year their will be an aircraft carrier in an addition to the airfield.

The Airfield.
I love how this family can come together and create together. There is no fear of use of imagination in this house.

Magical Wands!

Bless Bless

Thursday, May 19, 2011

21st Century Communication

The other day I was posting on my other Blog, that discusses Viking/ Saami history, the history of Runes. The Runes were called the "Northman's alphabet." So, I have to ask, would the Northmen use smart phones, I pods, smart pads et al? These tools are the realities of the 21st Century and many of people have found it difficult to unplug themselves from these devises. In fact, I am writing this post from my Blackberry Bold.
In the Waldorf schools parents are encouraged to unplug their children and themselves from the computer and television. How does one balance that in the 21st Century?
Thoughts to follow.
The phrase of the day: Chicken Butt!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicken Rebellion

I feel rebellious today. I have felt rather rebellious all day. Maybe it’s something in the wind. Maybe it was the newest article in Mother Earth News, "Backyard Chicken Basics" that inspired the rebellious nature within me.

Let the chicken rebellion begin!!! (baawaak!)

We have been raising chickens on our humble suburban homestead for about a year now. Ask me two years ago if I would be raising chickens and I would have probably said "Ah, NO!" However, two things changed my mind on that idea. 1. We started keeping bees. Yes, we have had up to three hives on our humble suburban homestead. 2. I discovered that in the factory chicken farms the poor hens are injected with arsenic to induce more egg laying. That arsenic is then passed onto into the eggs. YUCK!

Having the bees on the property has been a delight and fun. However, the use of any insecticide, even organic, to kill; the summer pesky ants, biting fleas and ticks, abundant earwigs (pincher bugs) and numerous sow bugs (pill bugs) that seem to become rather plentiful during the spring and summer became problematic. I feared that anything we use would harm the bees.

Last summer’s salmonella scare from a chronic chicken factory abuser didn't build my confidence in store bought eggs. We had converted to local and “free ranged” eggs already. But, I found that the interpretation of “free range” was rather open ended. Chickens are supposed to be free to walk and eat grass, bugs, scratch in dirt and play in compost. Not all chickens are raised equally apparently.

Being the Choleric Hippy Mommy that I am I did my research using Mother Earth News and Back Yard Chicken as my resources. A very patient Bill from City Farms Nursery answered my 1001 question regarding raising chickens. His motto, “They are chickens” finally gave me the confidence to start out with five. We decided to have fun with variety and get a chicken to represent a variety of different colored eggs. Let’s have fun! Our original five were Araucana (green-blue eggs), Road Island Red (brown eggs) and a Leghorn (white eggs). I discovered rather quickly that once you become a chicken owner one becomes a member of a rather eclectic and fun club. By the end of Spring of last year our five became fourteen with an addition of three beautiful Australorps and four dingy Leghorn Standards. We also inherited a re-purposed playhouse turned coop. Taking plans from Mother Earth News Viking Dad also built a Chicken Tractor.

We soon discovered how easy it was to raise chickens. They are very self managing. The best part and huge benefit; they loved sow bugs and earwigs. Problem solved! Another surprise benefit they are great weeders. They will eat just about anything green and pull it up for you. The added benefit is that there poop is great for the garden.

Soon we began getting eggs. The eggs these lovely ladies gave us were yummy, rich tasting and had a golden yoke that can’t be found from store bought eggs.By January 2011, we inherited four more chickens. A tragic accident during the summer brought our count to ten and these four newest ladies brought the count back to fourteen.

In the old tales, myths and legends of our Viking Ancestors, January is called the Starving Times. This is the dead of winter, no matter if it is San Diego County or Sweden, and brings out the primal nature of the wild beasts (yup, coyotes.) Tragically, one January morning as our free range girls were walking to greet us for their breakfast scratch the coyotes dined on ten of our fourteen chickens. The four that survived had been housed, originally as quarantine, in the armored chicken tractor. This was a tragic blow to our family since many of the ladies had become more like pets and partners then just chickens. It also became a teaching moment for our children. (cue Circle of Life theme). Viking Dad has explained to the children that when a pet dies “they drop their physical body and their spirit rises to heaven.”

By the end of the week the family had what we called “Chicken Therapy.” We went and bought seven more chicks. These included: 1 Road Island Red, 1 Production Red, 2 Araucana, 2 Bard Rocks and 1 Mix (we know it is a chicken and not a monkey.) After a month in the living room, the chicks were relocated to a coyote proofed pen. I had to restrain myself from electrifying the fence.

We know have in addition to our “Girls” and “Ladies” we have also an “Organic Alarm Clock” aka a rooster named Royalty. The chickens are still free ranged but under closer supervision when we are home.

Let me start the rebellion!

Top Ten Reasons to Own Chickens…. And join the rebellion!

Eggs from hens raised on seeds, grass and bugs aka truly free ranged are far more nutritious……

  1. 1/3 less cholesterol
  2. ¼ less saturated fat
  3. 2/3 more vitamin A
  4. 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  5. 3 times more vitamin E
  6. 7 times more beta carotene
  7. 4 to 6 times more vitamin D
  9. You can control the feed and raising of the chickens and know exactly what they eat.
  10. Stress management! The humor of chickens. After a stressful day one can not take a chicken seriously. Chicken Butt! Just look at a chicken butt. It’s funny!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seeking the Soul in Educational Television Shows

In Search Of----- (cue Leonord Nemoy narration) ---- Acceptable Kids Shows.

The other day my Kiddos, Viking Dad and me watched our first episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. This is a "educational show" on Nickelodeon Jr.

Our family doesn't watch a lot of television but the Kiddos do watch a selected set of shows that we feel are more age appropriate and live to our expectations.
As a teacher I tend to look at children's "educational" shows with some criticism. Over the years I have developed a criteria that I base my expectatio
ns on these shows.
1. Educational Theme- Are the "Three R's" being introduced? These are the old fashion "Reading, wRighting and aRithmetic." I will also add shapes, colors, numbers and critical thinking et al to this category too.
2. Social Theme- What is the social message being presented? I especially love the themes about sharing and getting along and the consequences of actions or choices.
3. Age Appropriateness- This is so important. There is a new show on reading that is aimed at the kindergarten age and I feel it is
too old, focusing on more complex topics.
4. Tone and Image- The show can be totally perfect academ
ically but if you have the main character talk to the children like they are imbeciles-NO! There are color and music that has been researched and developed to be appropriate for kids. Some shows hit this target and some are way off base.
5. Parental Involvement- Lets face it parents are going to have to enjoy it too. We all know that once the children fall in love with a particular character it will become the glue that holds the universe together.
6. The X Factor- This was an element or ingredient that for some time I couldn't name. It was the X Factor that made the show perfect. I fell in love with Dragon Tales because the shows had relevant and touching story lines that spoke to the child at heart. It had the X Factor. There are some shows that may have the first five expectations but missed the X Factor. Those shows we don't watch.

So, what is the X Factor?? For a time I didn't have a
clear explanation. Until now.

For the lack of a better term the X Factor is the soul of the show. It has depth, character, meaning, love and purpose. I discovered the term and application while attending my Waldorf education teaching program here in San Diego.

Waldorf Education or Steiner or Steiner- Waldorf educ
ation is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner is the Austrian philosopher who developed the philosophy of anthroposophy. In 1919, Rudolf Steiner wrote his first book on education called The Education of the Child. After reading this book, Emil Molt the owner and manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart, Germany, asked Steiner to create a school based on his philosophy. Current traditional public schools have developed curriculum and programs to raise test scores, teach to standards and programmable lesson plans for each class with no relationship one class hour to the next, unhealthy competition and cram as much information into the day without a break. Then the routine is then started again the next day. This leads to an overtaxing of memory and inner exhaustion of students instead of healthy development. In Waldorf education, the emphasis is on the efficient use of soul energy in developing real capacities in children. The soul is touched using practical, artistic and conceptual elements. Art, music, handwork, gardening, dance, games along with traditional core teaching are taught in a holistic environment that encourages not only the soul of the child to grow but also the teachers.
It is in this light that The X Factor now has a name. It is the Soul of the show.

A rare and almost unheard of concept in traditional schools is prominent in the Waldorf Schools. The television and the computer do not exists in the lower grades. Parents are also encouraged to "unplug" their children. Allow them and encourage them to explore their imaginative world.