Search Results for: winter fair

Life: Winter Break

Week one of Winter Break is in the books and it has been quite tumultuous.  Not only have we been enjoying the everyday pleasures of being trapped in a small house with five people and a dog, we were also blessed with a lingering stomach flu that kept JDubbs home from work to help take care of the kids and my mom away on Christmas Eve even though her plan was to spend the night and wake up with us Christmas morning.  We have also traveled through three states, spent two nights at relatives’ houses, attended one and a half Christmas parties and had our photo in two newspapers.  It’s been festive, albeit hectic, to say the least.

So since I was up to my ears in stomach flu, I didn’t do anything noteworthy at home other than pull off a stupendous Christmas, but we did have a great day or two before that!

We attended the Upper Valley Waldorf School Winter Fair, one of my absolute favorite pre-Christmas celebrations.

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We met the Snow Queen and visited the jungle in a gnome tent, and picked treasures from the Pocket Lady.  We couldn’t stick around to welcome King Winter before Em and I had to go to The Nutcracker, but it was worth the quick visit!

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Em and Little H have been thick as thieves lately, and I must admit that I really love it.  Having two sisters myself, I know there’s nothing better.

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We also made a hand print wreath for my grandmother’s scrapbook the family is putting together as her Christmas gift.  It came out so cute–I think I’m going to make one for myself next year!

Handprint holiday wreath @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Now that our travels are over, the new toys have been unpacked and stored in their bedrooms, our routine can get back to normal for this last week of vacation.  I hope to have much more to share from our adventures soon!

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A Treat With Em

It’s the third year for me and Em to go see “Clara’s Dream,” and the third year to make wonderful memories with my girl.  Before we went to the ballet, the girls and I were headed to the Winter Fair at the Upper Valley Waldorf School, and I didn’t want Em going out with wet hair.  Enter Daddy and his mad blow-drying skills!  Really, could he be any cuter?

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Dressed to the nines, the girls and I went to the fair, which was as lovely as ever.  We came home with many treasures, and they really enjoyed doing a bit of fishing on a winter day!

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Then we headed to Clara’s Tea with Nana and Auntie Jenny–unfortunately, I only brought my phone this year so I didn’t get many great photos, but Em and I did take a selfie before the ballet began!

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The ballet was on Saturday, and Em began Ballet I on Monday.  She has big aspirations to join the cast of Clara’s Dream when she turns 8 as a pasty chef, and perhaps one day en pointe.  I look forward to making many sweet memories with her every year!

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My little Sugarplum Fairy!

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Hodge Podge

The difference between having one kid and two?  Between having a baby and a preschooler or two big kids?  The difference is I can barely get my camera out of the bag, let alone actually take pictures.  We go somewhere, I bring my camera, and just when I’m about to begin capturing the cuteness, Em happens.  She either wants to be held or she starts destroying things.  Either way, in a situation where I would be clicking away, I end up with a handful of photos to commemorate hours of fun.  It’s kind of depressing for a clickin’ mom like me.

So here are weeks’ worth of photos, whittled down to a simple few.

Hanging out at the playground while I do my photoshoots.  Able to take literally thousands of photos of other peoples’ kids.  I get only a few of my own.

Hanging out at Nana and Papa’s.  My little man doing what he loves most: reading, reading, reading.

Hanging out at home, being silly.  Wishing it was still warm enough for puddle jumping.  Jax is wearing my boots, Em is wearing his.

Hanging out, ready to go on The Polar Express with Nana and Papa!  Big grins and pajamas required!

This is the big shocker: only 4 photos from the Winter Fair at school this year?  Last year I was floored by the beauty surrounding me as we explored what was to become Jax’s school.    It was a life-altering experience; it helped shape how we parent and brought me to the educational experience we are now enjoying so dearly today.  But between showing both sets of grandparents the splendors of the school, perusing the gorgeous wares for sale, or guiding my kids through the sea of people, I was a bit overwhelmed and claustrophobic by the end; I did not get to capture the glory of the day. I guess that means I was busy being present!  But it was still wonderful, and I am so looking forward to Em joining us in Morning Garden in January!

On our way to music on Fridays, we tried to stop and be sure to donate to the local food drive every week.  At first, Jax was very reluctant to share his food with those who lost their homes/livelihoods/possessions in Hurricane Irene.  Our area was hit incredibly hard by the storm, and even though evidence of that is all around us, Jax didn’t understand why we had to share.  The first problem was that he thought we had to give ALL our food, but once he learned otherwise, he was more inclined to help.  He is still impressed by the damage (and the ensuing construction that will be rebuilding for years to come) and after a few weeks of discussion, he now will happily head to our pantry and choose something worthy of donation.  Last week he even gave his Cars mac n’ cheese!  That is a real sacrifice in the eyes of a three-year-old!

Now whenever he has to share his food at any time, he asks whether the person he is sharing with needs help from “The Damage.”  The Damage is a big concept to him, but whenever he looks at the aftermath of that momentous day, he is always impressed.  That’s not always a good thing, but like all of us, the sight always leaves an impression that is hard to ignore.

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Balance

Parenthood is a balancing act; that cliche is almost too easy.  Yes, there are many balls in the air and sometimes one slips through and crashes to the ground.  But, to keep the metaphor going, doesn’t it always come bouncing back?  If one day I just don’t have my act together and maybe my kids watch a little more TV than usual, doesn’t it always work out that the next day we never turn it on and spend the afternoon taking a nature walk or stumbling upon a used book store where I buy the kids ten new books for a buck?  It’s the yin and the yang of life, the balance, that keeps me sane.  Otherwise I’d be guilt-ridden about the fact that we had ice cream twice this week, rather than shrugging and thinking, Well, hey, we’ll go months without it in the winter.  And that settles that.  Our life has a nice balance to it.  More than routine.  An ebb and flow.  A dynamic.  A rhythm.  I revel in it.

And just when our lives seem to be in perfect balance–Em is sleeping (with the help of four new teeth), Mommy and Daddy are finding time for each other and themselves, Jax is whining a little less and using his words to ask for help a little more–something shifts.  Growing happens: growing up, outgrowing, growing independence.  Whichever it is, it’s happening, and somebody

…is about to experience a change.  Oh, it’s gonna be good.  But it’ll be different, and throw off our balance a bit, nonetheless.

Jax has been accepted into preschool.  Actually, it’s pre-preschool, but it’s still a school setting.  Well, actually, it’s pretty warm and fuzzy and child-centered.  So it’s really nothing like school.  And did I mention I have to go with him?  Have to, I say, like I’m upset about it.  Like I’m secretly not doing jigs inside that he is still that little that he needs me to go with him to pre-preschool.  That buying a little lunchbox/backpack and new shoes and sending him off will be a little bit easier because, well, I’m not sending him anywhere.  I’m accompanying him, and although I’m supposed to be secondary to his teacher, who I know will soon be his favorite person on the planet, I’ll still be there, just in case.  And that’s okay with me.  It sits well with my personal sense of balance, that keeps me toeing the line of treating him like a “big boy,” and pulling him in my lap and cradling him like a baby.  Because he’s right on the cusp of big-boy-hood.  And believe me, I know, there’s no going back.

I won’t go too far into the details of why we chose this exact preschool yet, but I will say that it’s a Waldorf school, and that I put him on the waiting list days after attending the Winter Fair this past December and was officially smitten.  If you weren’t around for that post, I hugely recommend you go check it out, if only to glance at the photos and realize how enchanting a day it was, and to realize how quickly you would have put your two-year-old on the waiting list, too.  It took six months, but Jax was cleared to attend Morning Garden there this fall, one morning a week, and I am torn between being so proud that he is ready to take that step and ready to cry that he is so darn big.  But loving the school where we’re sending him certainly helps ease the transition.  Helps restore some semblance of balance to this mama’s slightly anxious heart.

I was a public school teacher in my other life, educator in two high schools, one middle school, and one disaster of a charter school.  I’ve been in nationally recognized Blue Ribbon schools and schools in Year 5 of Program Improvement according to No Child Left Behind.  I have stood in front of Walmart with fliers begging parents to withdraw their children from the horrific public schools their children attend and to enroll them in my charter school (yes, that is how we spent our “free periods” and yes, that school lasted all of two weeks.  Good thing those parents didn’t listen to me!).  So, I am familiar with public schools and their many advantages as well as their flaws.  I am enrolling my son in a private preschool, where we would have to pay a heavy tuition if we continue his education there, but at this point in his development, I say it’s worth it.  I don’t know if we’ll continue with private school for our kids’ entire education, but the skeptic teacher in me thinks it would be amazing.  The public school graduate in me thinks that I went to public school and I turned out just fine,  thankyouverymuch, and that money could be put to a lot better use right now in other places.  So we’ll see.  No pressure for the moment.  Just trying to balance what is piling onto today’s particular plate.  No need to think about the future.  At this particular moment.

This quote is from the letter I received from Jax’s teacher, and it resonated with me, at this moment in my parenting journey:

‘Parenting is a journey–a spiritual journey–a path of transformation…for which we are rarely ever prepared.  Remember the moment your heart stirred for your child with affection different than you ever experienced before?…At that moment, perhaps you recognized that your life as you knew it was dramatically changed forever.  And that thought held both joy and trepidation.’

~Bonnie Romanow

That is exactly where I stand with Jax right now.  Still so small and so my baby, and yet, not.  Growing and learning and heading off to school!  With me, yes.  One morning a week, yes.  But still, going.  The balance of our weeks and mornings will be different.  Our routine and rhythm will change.  Once a week we will rush and hurry out the door, to make lunch, to drop Em off with Nana, to make it to school on time.  No more leisurely wake up calls in Mama’s bed, rolling out and having breakfast when we’re ready.  Am I ready to make this transition?  Am I ready to let him grow?  I am and I will.  I know I will.  But it hurts my heart a little to see him so big and to know that, one day, the baby in my baby boy will be gone.  I knew my life would be changed forever by my kids; I just didn’t realize it was going to change dramatically again and again and again.

Guess I’ll have to learn to regain my balance.

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Smitten

One unexpected benefit of living wherewe do is how many diverse educational opportunities exist locally, starting as early as preschool.  We are fortunate enough to have two well-respected private schools in town, as well as a really great public elementary school, so JDubbs and I never really thought much about where we would send our kids to school.  The local elementary school would be completely adequate for Jax, and Em, too, if we’re still around at that point.  I’m not too concerned about preschool since, with Jax’s birthday falling in late October, he won’t be able to attend kindergarten until he’s nearly six, and therefore he’ll have plenty of time for all that.  Also, wait lists and paying for education that I can provide at home just really aren’t my thing.
That is, until Jax and I walked into this last week at the Upper Valley Waldorf School Winter Fair:
And I was smitten.  And still am.  And I’m trying to get Jax on the waiting list for preschool here.
It’s not really a preschool (although they do offer that, too); it’s like a pre-preschool, one morning per week with a parent accompanying him.  Kind of like the perfect bridge to preschool–a little hand-holding for my little guy who loves holding hands.
So, to explain, the local Upper Valley Waldorf School had its annual Winter Fair last week, and since Jax’s friend Harper attends and this is their big fundraiser, I wanted to show some support.  Plus, I’ve been feeling a little crafty lately, and was intrigued to find out more about this school where there are no synthetic toys or materials and where the children play and learn in a school that feels like a home.  I wanted to check it out with my cynical public school teacher eyes.
And what I saw was a joyful, intelligent, imaginative, appreciative, children-centered school environment, where the students were proud of their school and were willing to support it however they could.
By playing Christmas music to the Winter Fair attendees on their violins:
By offering up their classrooms and materials for gingerbread house-decorating, tinkering with metal and wire ornaments, weaving cranberry wreaths, or bedazzling a faux gingerbread man ornament:
By thinking outside the commercially-driven box.  For example, instead of buying tickets to use throughout the fair, I purchased miniature clothespins which I strung on a bell necklace made of twine to give in exchange for crafts and experiences.  Something so small and yet it set the tone of simplicity and minimalism rather than typical consumerism.  I know I sound so preachy with all my -isms, but during the holidays I feel so bombarded with pressure to consume and spend; it was nice to get back to basics.  And Jax thought that necklace was the absolute coolest thing.
Throughout the fair, it was the small touches like this that really got me, and the absence of the traditional, cookie-cutter school fair paraphernalia that made it all the more sincere.
They had me at “clothespin.”
I won’t claim to be an expert on Waldorf education, but as a teacher-on-hiatus I do know that there are a few things I’d change about the public school system and that maybe I don’t want to rush to put my kids in that potentially vicious cycle of pressure and testing.  Not when there are gnome circus tents to explore, handmade by students, staff, and parents:
A real three-ring circus under a big top, toddler-sized, with gnome clown cars and acrobats and tight-rope walkers.  The kids got to go in and explore it 3-4 at a time.
And when we left, we got to take a gnome home with us from the audience.  Jax chose the red one, and also pulled that little baby gnome out of the apron of The Pocket Lady–one clothespin and he could reach into one of her many pockets and take a small handmade gift.  They were in such contrast to the cheap plastics things he would have won from a carnival or out of a vending machine.
And when we left I bought a make-my-own King Winter that my niece Erika graciously helped me assemble with the help of some colored pencils and glue.
Isn’t he cute?  I know, his beard is falling off.  My glue needs an upgrade.
So, yes, I’m smitten.  I’m smitten by the simplicity, the joy, the humanity, the integrity of what I saw in a few hours at that school.  I have a crush on the non-conformist Waldorf style of early education.  I may not send my kids to school there when they are school-age, but the idea of keeping their childhood a little sweeter and worrying about them learning their letters, numbers, colors, shapes later appeals to me.  Maybe it’s because Jax seems like he’s on the right path already that I’m not in much of a rush for him to grow up and go to school.  If he can stay a kid as long as possible, fostered by a nurturing school environment, fueling the fire of his imagination, that’s fine by me.
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Christmas At Home

For the first time ever, since JDubbs and I were dating, married, or had kids, we stayed in our home for Christmas.  Yes, we have spent most Christmas mornings at home lately but this year we did not travel for the entire winter break, and to be honest, it was awesome.  While my older sister’s kids are still in middle/high school, and my younger sister and her new husband are still a duo, we felt it was fair to ask them and my parents to head north for the holiday.  That plus a very merry schedule full of gingerbread houses, visits with Santa, Christmas lights, decorating cookies with friends and sledding led to a wonderful extended Christmas indeed!

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On the night before Christmas, like every year, JDubbs read to the girls since Jax was down and out early with a strange stomach bug, and then we and Grammy got the house ready for Santa to come!  They had been such good kids, we knew he would.

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We were right!  Christmas morning was utterly delightful.  I’m so lucky to have kids who don’t expect everything under the sun for Christmas, who watch with gratitude and happiness while others open their gifts, and who are truly grateful for every present they receive, big and small.

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In the afternoon we went to Nana and Papa’s for more Christmas cheer, to eagerly await cousins, aunts and uncle, and for Mommy to get her one photo of Jax in his Christmas sweater with his sisters before he stripped down to his new Gronk jersey and went out to play with his new scooter and football Santa brought him.  Em got a scooter, too, as well as a new soccer ball from Daddy.  Considering it was warm enough to go outside with jackets (not an inch of snow yet this year!), we were happy to spend the afternoon stretching our legs and running off the extra energy from Christmas candy.

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Cousins arrived, the kids’ table was set, and it was time for presents and playtime all over again.

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The big kids had a matching pj sleepover at Nana and Papa’s, then we spent the weekend together, exploring wintry Vermont.  Sunday morning more aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grampy arrived!  The merriment just kept on coming.

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Who knows when we will be able to spend another Christmas entirely at home? I know that no matter where we are, as long as we are together, our holiday will be wonderful, but getting to spend it beginning to end in our home, with days upon days of family arriving was more special than I would have thought.  Loved our first Christmas at home! Hoping we can celebrate another soon.

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Magic Wands

After a winter spent indoors and with patches of snow still on the ground, a warm morning with bubbles wands felt like something conjured by our Fairy Godmother.

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These girls were thrilled to be together, thrilled to be outside, thrilled to be doing something so summer-tastic, thrilled Little H had finally figured out how to blow bubbles on her own!  Yes, she poured most of the bubble solution on her toes, but we are only looking on the bright side when it comes to magic wands.

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I can’t even complain about how Em dripped so much bubble solution on Little H’s hair that when I put her in the tub that night she literally lathered into a bubble wig all her own.  It was worth it.

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Magical!

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