Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Verse

Mary rocks her baby,
Joseph holds a light,
Ox and ass are standing
In the stable bright.

Shepherds in the doorway
Come to greet the child,
Now they kneel before Him
And his mother mild.

One holds out a lambskin
Soft and white as snow,
All shall give their presents
Ere they homeward go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Time to Relax

The Viking Homestead is on vacation. We will be back once the reindeer are back in their winter pasture. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas- God Jul

Merry Christmas
God Jul
and Gledileg Jol

from the Suburban Homestead
and the Viking Family

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How many ways to say Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Gleðileg jól
Hyvää joulua
Frohe Weihnachten
Nollaig Shona
God jul
God Jul
Nadolig Llawen
Glædelig jul

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simplicity Parenting- Kim John Payne

One of my "Go To" sources for how to handle any parenting questions is Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting. After many years of working in the world of education and psychology I have found Kim's approach simple, assuring and gentle. To me it is real and tangible. 

I want to share  Kim's approach on how to handle the information regarding Last Friday's tragedy in Connecticut.  Please read the rest of his article here.

An area that I want to focus for many Non-Waldorf families is Filtering Out Adult Concerns. Even for me and Viking Dad it is easy for us to get into our "Analysis Mode" and forget that Viking Monkey Boy and Viking Lady Bug are in the same room. I am going to use Kim's mantra below.

"Filtering Out Adult Concerns
We recommend - urge -  that children not be exposed to news reporting on screen or radio, or adult conversations about this event. Young children do not really grasp that repeated announcements are about one single event. Each time they hear a news report or overhear an unguarded adult conversation, the risk is that it sets off a brain based "cascade" of fight-or-flight hormones which can significantly delay their healing.
What to Filter In...Alternatively, reach into your store of favorite family stories. Tell the familiar beloved stories of Grandpa or Grandma, or maybe some from when you were little (especially the ones where you were naughty). These old stories are familiar and deeply securing to a child.  

The filtering out mantra applies here more than ever. Before you say anything in front of your child ask yourself three simple questions.
  1.  Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it necessary?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What to do during a National Tragedy?

Last Friday, I received devastating news. I learned through a former co-worker/Mentor that a gunman walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. His reason for calling me was to warn me not to watch television and to protect the Viking Kiddos from watching the news.

I was asked by my Mentor to write something about how to talk to our children about National Tragedies like what happened last Friday.

To find out more about the tragedy in Connecticut click here.

From one Mother to Another Parent/Mother:

1. Tell the Truth. Be honest. Keep the dialogue age appropriate. Listen to their questions.
One person suggested not to bring up the discussion unless your child brings up the conversation.
 Keep the hateful political rhetoric out of the conversation.
"Yes, Viking Lady Bug, there was a shooting in Connecticut and yes little boys and girls were hurt and died."

2. Assure them they are safe at school. You are the first line for this sense of safety. Your own emtions are going to be read and observed. When explaining that there school is safe, their community is safe, their home is safe, you should remain calm about it. "Yes, Viking Monkey Boy, your school is safe."

3. Monitor the Media. This incudes Social Media ie Facebook, Google+ et al.  The media has either gone from being sensitive and tactful to overly obnoixiously sensational. As for the Social Media. I have had to warn a few of my friends to calm down the angry and hateful political rehtoric. Right now is not the time nor is it helpful. Even as adults we don't need to watch the news 24/7. It adds to our own anxiety which then is reflected onto our children.

4. Seek professional help if worry and fear becomes more. The district I teach in has had our own school shooting tragedies. Our Humble Little Town still realing from the effects of the shootings that occured at two of our high schools. Tragedies like Friday bring back horriable memories and long buried emotions. Do not be afraid to seek help.

5. DO NOT LET THESE DEATHS BE IN VAIN! Live! Love each other! Respect each other! Show Random Acts of Kindness.

To donate to the United Way on behalf of Stony Hook Elementary School click here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Random Act of Kindness-ARK

Sometimes the written word can not express enough how one feels during times like America is feeling right now.

My Random of Act of Kindness Challenge this week is to find your own ARK.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Saint Lucia Day

Happy St. Lucia Day 
from the
Viking Homestead

Gleðilegt Sankti Lúsía Dag!

Glad Saint Lucia Dagen!

Lyckliga Saint Lucia Dag!

Glad Saint Lucia Dag!

Hyvää Saint Lucia Päivä!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Using the Saints as lessons for moral development

In the Waldorf schools and community the second grade is a period of change. It is one of the biggest milestones called the "Seven Year Change." Suddenly our little ones aren't so little and innocent. They have become inquisitive, curious and questioning. This is also the time when the Seven Year Old starts stretching the boundaries and norms they have grown up with for seven years. 
In the second grade/ seven year old the stories of the Saints are so important to help develop their morality and ethics. The Saints are often contrasted by a "trickster" usually in the form of an animal. For science nature is used and living in nature are the gnomes, fairies, and wee folks that come out an help with math.

For this Viking Mom the elements of nature, gnomes, fairies, wee folks and the tricksters stories were easy to use and incorporate into our daily rhythm. The stories of the Saints is a whole other matter. I didn't grow up with the stories of the Saints and only vaguely knew about St. Frances of Assisi (because of the near by Carmel Mission and the statues), St. Nicholas (Christmas), St. Lucia ( The Swedish tradition), and St. Christopher (Oh, help me St. Christopher on this trip).

In September we begin with Michaelmas or in this case St. Michael the Archangel. This feast day also includes the other Saints, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. The Viking Kiddos learned the Autumn Blessing. 

Autumn Blessing:
 Brave and true will I be,
Each good deed sets me free,
Each kind word makes me strong.
I will fight for the right! 
I will conquer the wrong!

Sword of Michael brightly gleaming,
Down to earth its light is streaming,
May we see its shining rays
In the Winter's darkest days.
We changed out nature table to reflect the beginning of Autumn and the changes on the Viking Homestead.

September: is always a crazy time of year in our house. It is the beginning of the school year and the end of the summer. Our homestead mixes a combination of modern reality and the needs to keep a stable and sustainable homestead. This year we used the metaphor of St. Michael struggle and pacification of the dragon as our goal to start the school year calmly and peacefully. 

October: started with the introduction and research for St. Francis of Assisi. Who was this Saint who is always seen with animals and birds flocked around him? I found a great resource here. When using the Saints their lives and Sainthood are told as a story. Many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis deal with his love for animals. The most famous incident that illustrates the Saint's humility towards nature is recounted in the "Fioretti" ("Little Flowers"), a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint's death. These stories from "Little Flowers" became my foundation for the stories about St. Francis of Assisi.  One a perfect metaphor on how to treat our environment and animals. I would say St. Francis of Assisi was the first environmentalist
On his feast day, October 4rd we washed all the Homestead animals. 

November: We have Lorraine Nelson Wolf's Come Follow Me CDs.  The Viking Kiddos have become intrigued over the song "Saint Martin". In the song we learn about a Roman soldier riding through the cold and snow and is approached by a freezing poor man. St. Martin cut his cloak in half and gave one half to the poor man. His act saved the man from freezing to death. To be honest, this song became the spring board in teaching the Viking Kiddos the goals of Charity and Giving. St. Martin is the patron Saint of the poor, soldiers and homeless.
The Saint Martin in this story is Saint Martin of Tours. There is another St. Martin but he's a bit spooky.
St. Martin's feast day is November 11th.  Children go to house to with paper lanterns and candles signing songs of St. Martin.  The two songs we learned this year.

Saint Martin

Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin rode through wind and snow
On his strong horse, his heart aglow
He rode so boldly through the storm
His large cloak kept him well and warm
By the roadside, by the roadside, by the roadside a poor man arose
Out of the snow in tattered clothes
"I beg you help me in my plight, or else I'll die of cold tonight.”
Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin stopped his horse
And drew his sword and cut his cloak in two
One half to the beggar man he gave and by this deed his life did save

I Walk with My Little Lantern

I Walk With My Little Lantern
I walk with my little lantern
My lantern, myself and I
Above, the stars are shining
Down here we're stars to the skyThe new moon shines, the cat meows
Ay, ay, ay! La boom-a-la, boom-a-la bay!
Ay, ay, ay! La boom-a-la, boom-a-la bay!

Inspired by St. Martin of Tour's sacrifice of his cloak the Waldorf School of San Diego gathered up blankets to donate to the local shelters. I think St. Martin would be pleased. I have used St. Martin's story as an example of Giving.

December: Saint Lucia or St. Lucy. I grew up with St. Lucia and celebrated her feast day on both December 13th and Christmas Day. I had always thought we celebrated her day on Christmas because that was when my family would visit my Swedish grandparents. I discovered that before the Julian calendar St. Lucia feast day fell directly on Christmas Day. Now, how did an Italian saint travel to Sweden? That story is deep in legend. 
I grew up hearing my Grandmother tell of a story that St. Lucia arrived at a small Swedish town during the Winter. The town had lost all of its wheat and grain and were starving. St. Lucia arrived on a boat all a glow with lights and candles. When her boat came ashore she began to hand out fresh grain to the town. The fresh grain allowed the town to survive the rest of the winter.This is why St. Lucia is shown with grain and a crown of candles.  I use St. Lucia's story as an example of Charity
In Swedish tradition on December 13th the oldest daughter of the house carries coffee and Lussekatter (Lucia Buns) to the Elders of the house. We have created in our home a new tradition. The Viking Kiddos take Lussekatter and coffee to their teachers.

This year we also included St. Nicholas. The origins of Santa Claus. You can read about here.

I found that the Viking Kiddos really appreciate and enjoy the stories I tell around the dinner table about the Saints. Viking Monkey Boy is always asking me to re-tell one of his favorites, which seems to change on a daily basis. But, I have noticed that the Viking Kiddos really have taken the messages about these saints to heart. Viking Lady Bug has been making sure we give to the Salvation Army Red Kettles and Viking Monkey Boy wants to make sure we share our abundance of St. Lucia buns with all his friends. 

I look forward to adding more saints as the year progresses into the 2013. In January I plan to introduce St. Thomas Moore and St. Thomas Becket. 

Bless Bless

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random Act of Kindness- "Doing the Most Good."

Tuesday has gone much better then Manic Monday.

This season we decided as a family to really focus on "Giving" and "Charity."  The Viking Kiddos this year have been exposed to the negative effects of materialistic, self centered, and greed this year. These are not the qualities we want to teach or be present in our home.

A beautiful opportunity and teaching moment occurred when Viking Lady Bug spotted one of the Salvation Army bell ringers.

She asked the bell ringer if she was in the "Army." The kind bell ringer gently explain to her she was part of the Salvation Army and that she was ringing the bell to ask people to donate to their red kettle. 
Of course Viking Lady Bug asked, "Why?" 
A perfect teaching moment started about Giving and Charity. Viking Lady Bug had some of her allowance in her pocket. Inspired, she decided to give her money to the red kettle. I couldn't be prouder. She had been saving her allowance for some hot chocolate at our favorite coffee shop. 

Ironically, that same week one of the radio station hosts started featuring stories on his show about what the Salvation Army really does. To be honest; I only knew them for their resale store ( I am a huge Goodwell Industry supporter because of their work training program for the disabled), and seasonal bell ringers. I had a vague understanding of their history as a Christian church. I was surprised at how many services they quietly provide to the community and to our Services Men and Women. 
Check them out here or in your local area.

I love their motto. "Doing the Most Good." Simple and Direct....

Here is my Tuesday Random of Act of Kindness Challenge- "Do the Most Good." 
Do the Most Good in some capacity this year. 

This year Viking Dad and I are supporting our goofy local radio station host in his Red Kettle Donations. He has a gentle competition with his co-host on how much money they can raise. All proceeds go directly to the Salvation Army. 

You can donate by going here.....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Manic Monday Continues

Like it can't get any better today.  Today is what is called a "Red Flag Day." This means that the winds in the mountain areas are over 60 mph. The Power Company from Hades decided after the Harris Fires in 2007 that to prevent further fires they would shut down the power grid in the Pink Zones.
We were all highly recommended to Prep for this occasion.

The pink areas are the areas that the Power Company from Hades will effect by shutting down the power grid. Yes, the Viking Homestead is in the Pink Zone!!

Last Saturday a parent of mine asked me why I am a Prepper. This is one of the reasons why? On Saturday, ironically, the Power Company from Hades did shut down the power grid for several hours. 

The newest App.....

Are you prepared!!!

Manic Monday- Missing Keys

A picture is worth a 1,000 words. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent- Waldorf Inspired mixed with Family Tradition

Advent Poem
The First Light of Advent is the Light of Stone-

Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The Second Light of Advent is the Light of the Plants-

Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The Third Light of Advent is the Light of the Beasts-

All await the birth, from greatest and to the least.

The Fourth Light of Advent is the Light of Humankind-

The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.

~Rudolf Steiner.

This Viking Family does celebrate Advent to celebrate the birth of the White Christ. This is a special time of year starting with Michaelmas and St. Martin's Day in November. 

As a habit I do not start anything Christmas related until December 1st. I want to make sure the focus and the spirit of Thanks Giving is the focus in November.

This year we are adding new elements of the Waldorf community to our holiday tradition. One of the new elements is the Advent Spiral and poem by Rudolf Steiner. 

The sentiments and tradition of the Advent Spiral is very touching. The message behind the Advent Spiral is very poignant for this day and age. The room starts off dark and as each candle is lit the room is illuminated.. We have been guiding the Viking Children into understanding that this time of year is about Giving, Charity, Hope, Love, Joy and Life. The darkness is all the negativeness we experience with the hustle and bustle of the self centered and materialistic world. The Advent wreath or spiral should represent a time for meditation and reflection. 

My Sister is doing 30 Days of Gratitude on Facebook. Each day, she reflects on what she is grateful for in her life and then posts it on Facebook. This is exactly what the Advent Wreath and Spiral represents. 

Our new tradition this year is to combine both the traditional Advent Wreath with the Advent Spiral. 

Each Advent Sunday when we light a new candle that represents Hope, Love, Joy and Peace we will also add the corresponding element. The first Sunday represents Hope and is represented by the Mineral World. The Viking Kiddos have collected all their sea shells, crystals and favorite stones and have placed them next to the corresponding candle. 

The Second Sunday represents Love and the corresponding element is the Plant World. I think this would be a perfect time to add the evergreen bough around the circle.  

Third Sunday represents Joy and the corresponding elements is the Animal World. I am sure we can find something ideal to add to this Sunday.

The Fourth Sunday is usually the Sunday before Christmas and it represents  Peace. This is represented in the last line of Rudolf Steiner's Advent poem and it is the Human World. I think it is appropriate to wish for Peace for all of mankind during this time. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In America we are familiar with an image of Santa Claus in a red and white suit, a round belly, white bear, a twinkle in his eye and rosy cheeks. But, for many of us who grew up with family members that were in raised in other countries Santa Claus has has a different image. 
On December 5 or 6th is St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas was born during 3rd Century in the village of Patara, which at the time was part of Greece. It is now part of southern coast of Turkey. St. Nicholas was born to wealthy parents, who had raised him to be a devout Christian. This was during a time when the Roman Emperor Diocletian still ruthless persecuted and killed Christians. St. Nicholas lost his parents due an epidemic leaving St. Nicholas with a large inheritances. 

Obeying one of Jesus's teachings, "sell what you have and give the money to the poor," Nicholas gave his entire inheritance to assisting to the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God. 

One of my favorite St. Nicholas stories is the story about a poor man with three daughters. 
In those days a young woman's father had to offer future husbands a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better chances of finding a good husband. (Yes, you may giggle and snort here). The poor father could not provide a dowry for his three daughters and they were destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three separate occasions , a bag of gold appeared in the home. These bags of gold provided the much needed dowries. It is said that these bags of gold had been thrown through an open window and had landed into stockings hanging by the fire. Some also say these bags of gold landed in shoes left out to dry. 

This led to the custom of children leaving stockings or putting out shoes, to await eagerly for their gifts from St Nicolas. 

St. Nicholas is the patron saint and protector of children, sailors and the poor. His story is very similar to St. Martin of Tours whose feast day is celebrated in November. The theme remains the same. These selfless acts are examples of the meaning of Advent. 

A family tradition to be made on St. Nicholas Feast Day......

Pepernoten (Dutch Peppernuts)
In Holland St. Nicholas visits the children on December 5 accompanied by his faithful helper "Black Peter." He, or a black gloved hand, distributes the peppernoten to the children by throwing them through the door before the arrival of St. Nicholas.
2½ cups (300 g) flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (75 g) brown sugar
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon anise seeds optional
Knead all ingredients into a soft ball. Butter two baking sheets. Form about 50 marble-sized balls. Place them on the two sheets, so that they are the same distance from each other. Flatten each ball slightly.
Bake at 350º F. (175º C) 20 minutes or until done. The cookies will be very hard, but they will get softer as they get older.

Makes about 50 peppernuts.

Runderlappen(Dutch Spiced Beef)
3 lbs. round steak, cut into six pieces
Salt and pepper
½ cup butter or bacon drippings
3 medium onions, sliced
1 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar
½ tablespoon mustard
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon whole cloves
5 peppercorns
Pound meat and rub each piece with salt and pepper. Heat butter or bacon drippings in skillet until very hot. Brown meat thoroughly on both sides. Shortly before meat is done, add onions, and fry lightly, but not browned. Place meat in a covered baking dish. To drippings and onions in skillet add water, vinegar, mustard, bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and pour over meat. Cover meat and simmer very gently for 2–3 hours at 350º until very tender. Turn meat every half-hour.
From Festive Recipes and Festival Menus by Sula Benet, Abelard-Schuman, 1970, p. 86.