Comments and Community

IMG_9270

I appreciate each and every one of you who come here daily and read my words, however, if you are not reading the corresponding comments, you are missing out. I have found such a sense of community in the dialogue that follows something I post – such thoughtful, honest words that further the conversation in ways I could have never, ever imagined. (One comment – on this post – made me see myself differently and crystalized a new vision for my future. It’s absolutely true. More on that soon . . . Thank you Emmie.)

Jean Miller‘s comment on my recent post “What’s Working” deserved to be posted all by itself – and that is what you will find below. I know Jean in real life. She is a mentor and a friend and a light on my path. She offers homeschooling consulting and I highly, highly, highly recommend it. (You can read more about our experience together here and here.)

Anyway, what I really want to say is yes, please, read the comments – but even more than that, comment yourself. I would love you to add your voice to this growing community and know what you’re thinking. Be brave. Say what you think. You never know when your words might change someone’s life . . .

* * *

I know I’m late to the party here, but there’s just so much in this post and I had to do some digging! First of all, as I read Steiner’s lectures to the first teachers, there really is NO “looking like Waldorf” to begin with, so you can’t be less Waldorf now! OK, well there is admittedly the rhythm of main lesson work; but even Steiner knew this would look different in each classroom. It’s Waldorf schools that are so homogeneous and make us feel like there is some particular way this is all supposed to “look.” Seriously.

So glad you’re enjoying Mapping the World. I want to try that curriculum for myself! Brave Writer is nice to have around to help Moms generate writing activities. I also have appreciated her book lists. I think everyone with kids over age 12 should try notebooking! Lots of kids really like it and appreciate a break from the main lesson book routine or whatever routine you’ve had going. We used Teaching Textbooks here too, and also Right Start Math (very hands-on and Montessori-based) for middle school. Love the Maestro Classics recordings. They seem just right and are easy to use; local public libraries have many of them to borrow. Plus, we love going to the education concerts at our city’s orchestra; fun to match the recordings with concerts when that can work.

Ok, now for reading. Not all kids are going to take to reading fiction for pleasure in a big way. When they do, we’re lucky! But I also think that once kids reach a certain age and aren’t picking up fiction on their own, it’s fine for us to “assign” a title. Maybe assign one book each season, or each block if they can handle it. Sometimes it helps to give kids a list of six books with a little description and they get to choose one. Or have a conversation (together) with your local librarian. If your’re already having them read say historical fiction that ties in with a particular block, that may be the best it gets! My boys way in was Harry Potter, too. But I don’t think my husband has ever picked up a novel to read for pleasure. Ever. Not in school; not as an adult. Sad but true! Another fun approach is to have a movie in mind (from a book) and require the book to be read first. Then have a big movie night party with pizza, popcorn, root beer floats or whatever! Yup, a whole post on this one!!! Hugs to you. Jean

Come Have Cake in Ohio!

IMG_5958

I registered for Barbara Dewey’s Waldorf Homeschool Teacher Training this past weekend. It is held at Taproot Farm in Ohio, and I consider it my annual retreat. This will be my third year in attendance, and I love the sense of community I have found there. Jean, Alison, Siobhan, Kelley and of course, Andrea all made last year special. I’ll be bringing a certain cake I have blogged about before, and I would love to share a piece with you. And if cake isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Alison and Andrea will have wine!! Won’t you join us?

***

My Dearest Alisha,

There is a secret I have kept from you for almost a year now. I think about it from time to time and my emotions range from slightly embarrassed to completely remorseful. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything then, but like most regrets this one has both haunted me and taught me a lesson or two. It was really a small thing, something I might not have even given a second thought at a different point in my life. But for some reason this regret has stayed with me. It has changed me. You were the first subscriber to my blog, so I thought it somehow fitting to confess to you here:

I had an entire chocolate cake, in my car, the whole time we were at Taproot.

Yes, a whole homemade chocolate cake. And I didn’t tell you or share it or eat any of it myself. Even when you were ranting about the fact that there wasn’t a cookie to be found on the whole 100 acres! (I actually think you were starting to twitch at that point from lack of sugar.) I knew that cake was in my car, but I didn’t say anything. I kept quiet by telling myself different things: “It’s probably stale.” “Vincent made it. It’s a new recipe. It might not even be good.” “It probably got crushed during the trip and is just a mess of crumbs.” But you know what? It wasn’t any of those things. Can I tell you? It was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten – moist, sweet, and oh-so-chocolatey.

In an effort to keep myself awake on the drive home from Ohio to North Carolina, I busted into that cake somewhere in West Virginia. Regret washed over me as soon as I took that first bite. I knew I had missed a chance. I still can’t put my finger on what exactly I think I missed. I felt like we connected almost instantly – as they say, we laughed, we cried . . . and yet, when I picture us sharing that cake, giggling like girls, it is a memory that could have been and because of my reticence never was.

You know some of the story of the months after Taproot: my friend’s cancer diagnosis, another friend’s sudden death. In my mind those events are intertwined with the uncut cake. Missed opportunity, holding back, fear, regret. Yes, it is all of those things mixed together, but if I am being completely honest, it’s also about letting myself be vulnerable. It’s about being known. It’s about being seen. The dark days of December 2011 led me to the light of a new year with one resolution: share the cake. The manifestations of stepping into this place of voluntary vulnerability have been both simple and profound: Writing more. Reading more. Crying more. Laughing more. Sharing so, so much more: flowers, words, time, books and yes, cake. These days, I try to share a lot of cake.

Thank you, my friend, for being who you are and helping me become more of who I want to be. And, the next time we see each other, I promise I’ll share the cake.

***

PS Alisha and her family came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. We finally did share that cake and picked up our friendship right where we left off. I’ll tell you, Taproot is a special place. Cake just makes it a little bit sweeter.

***

Click the images below to read more about Taproot.

IMG_1592

IMG_1443

Listening

IMG_3976

Tom took the boys to a baseball game tonite and I’m home having a glass of wine and doing some organizing – wild Saturday night here at the farmhouse!! It was a little too quiet, so I put on Alison Manzer’s interview from the recent Waldorf Global Expo. I know Alison personally, and love her view of Waldorf homeschooling as something freeing, approachable and expansive. As I wind down another school year, and begin to think about the next, I am so thankful for her insights and enthusiasm as to what is truly possible when we homeschool with Waldorf inspired methods. She is like a breath of fresh air. If you find yourself with some free time, listen to Alison’s interview, aptly titled “Adapting Waldorf to You”. Donna Ashton has generously offered the Expo replays for free again this weekend. You can find them here. And if you listen, I’d love to know what you thought.

Shout Out: Global Waldorf Expo

I listed Donna Ashton’s 4th Annual Global Waldorf Expo in my Links and Thinks this week, but I wanted to give it a proper mention. When I first came to Waldorf, Donna had just recorded her first Expo. I purchased those recordings and things like rhythm, main lesson blocks and the temperaments finally started to make some sense. I love having an audio library that I can listen to during my summer planning and also throughout the year. I had planned on purchasing this year’s recordings as well and was surprised by a sweet incentive in my inbox this morning.
Early Bird *Special*
For any Expo package purchased Now thru May 14 (Option 1,2 or 3) receive
The Special Jumpstart: Waldorf Basics Program FREE!  $97 Value
and
For anyone who purchases Option 3: Grand Package (All 4 Years of the Expo products)
You will get your choice of the:
Elementary Secrets Course (Program for lower grades)  $197 Value
Super Simple Kindergarten Syllabus  $297 Value
I wanted to pass this along, and also disclose that the links from my blog to the expo are affiliate links. This is the first year Donna has done this, but I was just as enthusiastic to promote the Expo last year without the kickback. You can also listen to the recordings for free for 24 hours after they air. Check out all the details here.

She is Magic!

IMG_3653

I had just typed the title to this post when Vincent came up beside me, read it and asked, “Who’s this post about?” I asked him a question, “Who is the most magical person you know?” No hesitation: “Miss Beth.” There you have it. Beth Magill teaches both my boys penny whistle. She is passionate, open-hearted, gentle, and yes, some would say magical. Her lessons are the highlight of our week for many reasons. Beth also teaches Andrea’s kids. We all camp out at her house for about 2 hours every Wednesday while we catch up, knit and rotate the kids in and out. It is a wonderful way to mark the middle of the week. (You can read Beth’s take on our weekly version of “Occupy” here.)

Each child has a 20-30 minute private session with Beth. The sounds that emanate from behind the closed door range from shrill squeaks, to snatches of a recognizable melody to lively tunes that make you want to dance a jig. Beth’s enthusiasm for each child’s progress is unbridled. Listening to her engage with them, you would think not only is your child the best whistler to ever play “Hot Cross Buns” but that they also invented the tune and composed the music. Somehow, this effusive praise is never delivered with anything other than a pure heart and a genuine spirit. Under such light, we have seen our children grow musically in ways we never imagined possible.

I feel blessed to be able to drive to town every Wednesday and have my children sit and play with Beth. The good news is, you can too – no matter where you live. She is now offering lessons via Skype. If you are wanting to bring music into your everyday life, contact Beth by emailing her (beth at magills dot net) or by checking out her blog.

** Just a note: I am in no way compensated or rewarded by Beth’s tireless efforts to populate the world with penny whistles. She is a friend, a dear friend, and a resource I think everyone should know about.