Finding Quiet

Contributed by Sarah Wiberg, Parent-Child Class Teacher

Parent-Chid Class Table Quiet Crafting
Tea and crafting is part of the rhythm in the Parent-Child classroom. This time offers parents a creative activity and time to connect while the children play.

I am currently enrolled in the Birth to Three Training at Sophia’s Hearth, in Keene, NH. As I was reflecting on my week of training last month,  I began to see that this training is meeting me professionally and personally in such a deep way. I  have been called to grow in ways I did not expect.

Practicing Quietness

One of those opportunities for growth came in the form of practicing and embracing quietness. One of my teachers put into question my own practice of quiet. I had been so proud of all the things that I could juggle in my mind and still appear calm on the outside. I started to realize that I do not allow enough quiet moments to come into my day – moments that could really fill and restore me instead of constantly feeling frazzled.

“A quiet mind and calm environment is fertile ground for creative play and safe social experiences and interactions.”

During class, I am often able to find a place of quiet. The strong rhythm of the morning offers opportunities to follow what is known so well and I enjoy a calm, quiet mind.  The children can often find that peace in the day when they are surrounded by what is predictable. A quiet mind and calm environment is fertile ground for creative play and safe social experiences and interactions.

Modeling Quiet for our Children

Our children find this peace when we are able to find it for ourselves. Through our modeling, they learn to feel calm in their environment.  This might be the hardest to achieve for parents.  I will be the first to admit that there are many times that it is easier to be the teacher in a class than a parent at home.  At home it is easy to become distracted by the demands of life; dishes, laundry, ironing, making lunches for school, cleaning the living room, vacuuming the floor…(care to add a few more?)  And I did not even mention the work expectations, evening meetings, or different family commitments.  How is one ever able to find a quiet moment at home with the ever-running list of responsibilities and commitments?

During the season that seems to pull us in so many directions, I challenge you as I have challenged myself, to find a quiet moment each day.  This moment could be to meditate, reflect on something in nature, read a book, or just observe our children as they play.  In this moment we may also make time for finding gratitude for what we have in our lives.  This practice helps us to find the positive in each day when it is so easy to feel overwhelmed.  Our children will feel this shift and begin to reflect it in their own lives.

Here is one of my favorite verses.

Felted Art Quiet Winter NightQuiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will’s resolve
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being,
When by my steadfast striving
I become strong
To find myself within myself
The source of strength,
The strength of inner quiet.
 -Rudolf Steiner

Many blessings during this Holiday Season.

Saint Nicholas Day in a Waldorf School

Saint Nicholas Day at Meadowbrook Waldorf School

shoes Saint Nicholas

The children in the lower grades were busy yesterday tidying their rooms and placing their shoes out neatly in anticipation for a visit from Saint Nicholas.  This morning those eager boys and girls found treasures of clementines and small shells in their shoes waiting for them, sometimes with a hint of glitter left behind from their secret visitor.

Who is Saint Nicholas?

Today the children celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.  Saint Nicholas was a bishop born in the 4th century. He was known for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas.  Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers.* Saint Nicholas day is celebrated throughout Europe and is honored by Waldorf schools and Waldorf inspired homes and homeschoolers as well.

Legends of Saint Nicholas

One of the most popular stories of St Nicholas tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas.**

Saint Nicholas Felted

Our German teacher shares this poem about Sankt Nikolaus translated into English.

Knecht Ruprecht – Theodor Storm

From out of the forest I now appear, to proclaim that Christmastide is here!
For at the top of every tree are golden lights for all to see;
and there from Heaven’s gate on high I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees, a loud voice it was that called to me:
‘Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow’ it cried, ‘hurry now, make haste, don’t hide!
All the candles have now been lit – Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both hong and old should snow have rest away from cares and daily stress;
and when tomorrow to earth I fly “It’s Christmas again!” will be the cry.’

And then I said: ‘O Lord so dear. My journey’s end is now quite near; 
but to this town I’ve still to go, Where the children are good, I know.’

‘But have you then that great sack?’
‘I have’ I said, ‘it’s on my back.
For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts for God-fearing children are a must.’

‘And is that cane there by your side?’ 
The cane’s there too,’ I did reply;
but only for those, those naughty ones, who have it applied to their backsides.’
The Christ-child spoke: ‘Then that’s all right! My loyal servant, go with God this night!’

From out of the forest I now appear; To proclaim that Christmastide is here!
Now speak, what is there here to be had?
Are there good children, are there bad?

Sources:
*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas
**http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

Farm to Table: Is home canning safe?

Contributed by Teri Gregg

Home canning

Are home-canned products safe to eat?

Is it safe to eat Aunt Gab’s or Grandma Mary’s pickles, green beans and preserves?  Every year, people proudly give their homemade canned goods for gifts and the wary recipients leave them in their cupboard for years wondering if they are really safe to eat. If this sounds like you, then here is some helpful information to help you decide when to toss a canned good and when to sing Aunt Gab’s and Grandma Mary’s praises!

What is canning?

Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, In 1795 the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 francs for a new method to preserve food. Nicolas Alpert  suggested canning, and the process was first proven in 1806 in tests conducted by the French navy.  The packaging prevents microorganisms from entering and proliferating inside.

To prevent the food from being spoiled before and during containment, a number of methods are used: pasteurisation, boiling (and other applications of high temperature over a period of time), refrigeration, freezing, drying, vacuum treatment, antimicrobial agents that are natural to the recipe of the foods being preserved, a sufficient dose of ionizing radiation, submersion in a strong saline solution, acid, base, osmotically extreme (for example very sugary) or other microbially-challenging environments.

Other than sterilization, no method is perfectly dependable as a preservative. That said, really, only foods with a low acidity (most veggies, meat, seafood, poultry and dairy products) need sterilization under high temperatures.  This is achieved through pressure canning.  Foods that can be safely canned in ordinary boiling bath water are highly acidic such as most fruits, pickled vegetables (anything canned in vinegar) or other foods to which acidic additives have been added.

Simply put, if your great aunty (or Teri) gives you jam, jelly or anything pickled in vinegar, it is more than likely okay and most assuredly NOT going to kill you.  The worst thing that would happen is it may not have been sealed properly and it will get moldy.  This is easily seen (or smelled) and should just be thrown out.  If the seal has been compromised at all, again, just throw it out.

Home canning and a bit about botulism

Foodborne botulism (which is what everyone is afraid of getting!) results from contaminated foodstuffs in which C. botulinum spores have been allowed to germinate and produce botulism toxin, and this typically occurs in canned non-acidic food substancesSO, again, simply put, this means that if you get a jar of green beans that are canned in just salt water, not vinegar!,  there is a chance, albeit small, that it has grown botulism.    Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness, leading to paralysis that typically starts with the muscles of the face and then spreads towards the limbs. In severe forms, it leads to paralysis of the breathing muscles and causes respiratory failure.  So.  What to do about those green beans.  If Grandma Mary is up to snuff on the latest information on how to pressure can, then I would go ahead and eat them!  The latest recipes have all the benefit of the litigious world we live in and have made it almost impossible (IF ALL STEPS ARE FOLLOWED!) to pressure can improperly. HOWEVER! if she poo poos the latest information and uses old school, or old world methods, I would consider giving it to the mouse outside first and see what happens. (ONLY KIDDING!  I like mice!)

Try the jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys, relishes, pickled veggies with confidence! And send the thank you note singing their praises. The others may need your brave trust…..or a reserved spot in the pantry to honor the effort. (Really, don’t feed the mice)

Handwork is Meaningful Work in a Waldorf School

Why is handwork integrated in the curriculum at a Waldorf school?

Waldorf school handwork verse

As a third year parent at Meadowbrook Waldorf School, one of the first interesting things I observed was the use of handwork and other ‘meaningful work’ in the classroom.  When adults engage in meaningful work such as sweeping, cutting vegetables, or doing handwork crafts, it brings a sense of calmness to the space. It seems to possess an almost magical ability to settle the children.  One of two things often happen. The young child either imitates the work being modeled or s/he feels the security to go off and play nearby.  This is something that I witness at home and see weekly in the Parent-Child classroom.  In parent-child class, adults are given small handwork projects and the toddlers are happy to explore the selection of toys available to them.  In  early childhood grades of pre-school and kindergarten, the children are introduced to simple craft handwork projects such as finger knitting. Handwork is incorporated into the curriculum through all the grades and increases in complexity with the childrens’ advancing skills.  Learning these craft skills have the added bonus at home being a productive way to pass the time on a rainy day or a long car ride.

“Through beauty, color, and form, handwork and crafts help to lead the children from play to imaginative thinking as adults, forming a kind of bond between the two. “ from The Importance of Handwork in the Waldorf School by Patricia Linvingston published in Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education, Vol. 9#1, Spring 2000
A few ways handwork helps children develop. (Source: Angela Mobley)
  • Moves the child from play to meaningful work.
  • Nurtures sense of reverence and wonder.
  • Develop patience and perseverance.
  • Builds capacity to concentrate and focus
  • Builds capacity to solve problems.
  • Promotes capacities for thinking and judging.
Handwork Gift Items at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire Store
Waldorf school handwork knitting needle bags

Felted wool knitting needle bags.

There will be a variety of handwork gifts at the Holiday Faire store this year.  You will find knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving  and sewing items available suitable for a range of age groups.  There are beautiful hand crafted knitting needles and handmade felted wool needle bags.  Also featured are lovely wooden beading looms with glass beads,  a natural alternative to the currently popular elastic band looms.  Shop Saturday 6-9 pm or Sunday 10-4.

Also be sure to visit the handwork display and visit with the handwork teacher to learn more about how handwork supports learning in a Waldorf school.

Waldorf school handwork item

Wooden beading loom, a natural alternative to the elastic band looms.

handwork items for waldorf school store

Various handwork projects will be offered.

 

Holiday Faire