December 2009

Their First Meal

December 31, 2009

Yesterday was a big day. A big big day

No one lost any teeth, or rode a bike for the first time. No one hit a home run or learned to read. No, this was even better.

My boys, start to finish, decked out in all their culinary finest, cooked a meal start to finish.

Oh a mama’s pride.

Chicken stew was the menu, and there was so much excitement in the air that you would have thought that they were going to Disney World for the first time.

They rinsed the vegetables, peeled the carrots, chopped the celery and onions (Jacob apparently did not realize that they make your eyes water, so that put a slight delay in the process), and put it all into the pan.

They sauteed, and spiced, which was a huge thrill. They knew that they were big boys who had proved themselves in the kitchen when mama let them stand in front of the stove to stir their meal.

They poured the liquid in, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the smells of their hard work. Once their task was finished, they promptly announced that they would like for me to make them a puffy chef hat, and could I please do it quickly. I hadn’t realized that they had ever seen one, but this is apparently a very big deal, so I suppose that I will have to whip out Meg’s new book and put one together for each of them.

The boys also reassured their dad and I that if we are ever sick at the same time, that all we have to do is ask, and they will make us our favorite chicken stew. I tell you, I am not sure how much luckier we could be.

The past week has also been wonderful for me to witness just how much my boy’s have fallen into a rhythm with their own hand work. I felt like the boring gift giver when I presented them each with a wooden peg loom for Christmas (please explain to me how anyone can compete with getting skis?). I thought that it would go into a corner, and would have to wait until the novelty of the “cooler” gifts wore off. So, I was surprised when the day after Christmas, I found Jacob on the sofa trying to string his loom for the first time.

He has worked on it every day since, and Elwood as well. The ways that the yarns weave in and out, the patterns that they make, and I think the feel in their hands is a real joy. One thing that I love about handwork, and the reason I find it to be so important in the kids lives, is that it brings about a quiet attention. You can tell that there is no one around when the boys are working on their projects. It is just them, in their own world, creating what they want to see and exploring the possibilities.

When I first became involved in Waldorf education, I knew that I liked the idea of my children learning cooking and handwork, but I am not sure that I understood the value of it. Now, it is not about the method of education, but more about what learning those things brings to their lives. I think that I see now, it is the attention to the detail, to the finer points in their world, that makes these types of experiences so valuable. It is not just they can do it, or that is stimulates a particular side of their brain. It really is just that it roots them deep into themselves, and what they are capable of.

And if nothing else, it gives me reassurance that someone will be there to make me chicken soup if I should ever need it.

Happy New Year my friends.


With Hearts of Gratitude

December 30, 2009

As my boys are growing (and may I say that is just happening way faster than I would like), I realize that the holidays, and their meaning, are changing as well.

As a mom, I have the very unrealistic desire to see my children be full of gratitude for each and every thing that they are ever given, and to never want for more.

Hey, I said unrealistic.

I loved to watch my babes as their eyes lit up when we gave them an empty box for Christmas when they were tiny (that is an awesome gift for a 1 year old. Just wrap about 6 empty boxes with crinkly paper, and watch them go to town). It was easy when there were no expectations.

I know that I can not shelter the boys from expectations forever, no matter how hard I try (and trust me, I give it my all), but this was the first year where I really needed to sit down and find a new way to show gratitude for what we have been given. I don’t want to just talk about being thankful to my children, I want them to simply experience it, and then hope that it becomes a part of who they are.

I remembered the Family Hearts from Amanda Soule’s book Handmade Home, and I decided that it might be fun to sew up one for each of my loved ones to give at the turn of the New Year.

I also wanted to include a little saying about what each person meant to me, and as that idea grew, the boys and I decided to create a gratitude jar that was filled with reasons that we were thankful for the other person. Such as, I’m thankful that my brother flushes the toilet when he is done. Now that is gratitude

We created envelopes, and gave them out to everyone, and then asked them to slip in ten pieces of paper for each person’s jar. We figured that this would be a good way to bring smiles to every one’s faces on those days when gratitude seems anything but plentiful. I am excited to sit down as a family and enjoy taking out the first slip of gratitude from each of our jars

I know that we can not force gratitude on our children, but I do hope that I can find a way to show them what it feels like when someone tells you how grateful they are for you.

Oh, and speaking of gratitude, I have to say a world of thanks to Nicola for her toffee recipe. To be honest, I am pretty sure that this was the best part of the holidays for everyone in my household, and this candy left the plate as quickly as I put it on. May I suggest that you run, don’t walk, to get the ingredients for this amazing bit of yummy goodness. Although, I warn you, my waist line and this toffee seem to be having some sort of strange battle, and the toffee is winning.

Nicola, you deserve your own gratitude jar for this one.