Friday, August 26, 2011

Forest Kinder

“Our program is not us teaching them through play, but just allowing them to play, which helps them make the world their own.”

Thank goodness for the above excerpt from All Points North magazineit precisely articulates my sentiment  and the intention I have behind my creating and teaching classes.

What I do in my yard with families may not (at all) resemble a forest kinder, but it has the same heart, it is cut from the same thread.

I am very humbled and grateful to be approaching the core of what I want to achieve in my work, which for me has been a twisted journey of question marks--maybe because I didn't go to a Forest Kindergarten, and rather went to School #2 (my daughter didn't believe me!).

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

--where that kid is sitting 

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Fairy Hunt, YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard!)

The other day I said to my neighbor, "I wish I were a woodsman so I could build (such and such)."  To which she replied, "Yes, but there are no woods here."

"Seven Fairies fly and play around the final clue today!"

For Mudi's 7th Birthday we had a Fairy Hunt in our yard, which is basically the front yard to the Hollywood sign and bustling city--everything became the silent woods all around as the magical letter was announced and the first clue read:

 "An enchanted doorway both far and near, fairies keep their ashes here.  For the girl who's turning seven, lie seven magical stones, sent from Heaven."

Seven clues with seven treasures.  Seven tiny fairy bouquets hide on an old gate that has itself been hidden by vines:

Hiding behind two big bushes, a white gate no one ever pushes; on the ledge, you will see, what you're looking for, clue number three."

The seven magical fairy stones were hidden in a chimney sweep, an enchanted doorway somehow  unnoticed.

It is delightful to find magic in every day, and it is rightly magical to see the Wood in Hollywood.

New Playgroup Los Angeles Baby and Toddler Classes Begin in 2 Weeks!

Babies are such blessings, it seems all of our lives expand in every way from the moment they arrive.

  I have been teaching classes for babies and toddlers (and kids and grown-ups too!) for years now really just to soak up more of that joy.  This year, I have been given the gift of having my own beautiful new baby, and with it, has come the birth of my own beautiful new classes, Playgroup Los Angeles.  

With the new addition, I want to offer valuable classes based on all of my work and education without traveling all over the city all the livelong day, as I have to date, so I can be closer to baby.  

Yes, one day there will be travel again, I am so grateful that some of you have asked, but for now please come and join me at home!

Please visit the website for the upcoming September classes, which start in just 2 weeks!  Summer really flew this year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I Give You Hazel and Pearls

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream,
And caught a little silver trout.

~William Butler Yeats

Hazelwood and pearl necklace, Mirth in the Tummy Tub!

Weeks before Mirth was born, I was teaching a class with new moms, and I asked them each to tell me what their favorite baby product has been as I was starting to prepare for baby.  Well, it could be my mommy brain, but I don't happen to remember a thing they recommended!  That being said, these are 2 things I have come across this time around that I can fully endorse on novelty alone:  the Hazelwood Necklace and the Tummy Tub.

Many of us, even in (or especially in) Los Angeles have become familiar with Amber Teething Necklaces; however, only few seem to be familiar with the Hazelwood Necklaces, and I am happy to add it to the (crunchy) parent must-have list.

As indicated in the poem above, many of us have quite the fire in the head when our babies are having discomfort,  especially digestive, and it is good to have an arsenal of tricks.  Enter the hazel wood necklace.  As the skin absorbs hazel wood, the body shifts to a more alkaline as opposed to acidic state, which makes happy spitter-uppers, if any at all.  Mirth had a low-grade fever for a couple days, and I decided on day two, after all the swimming she has done this summer--you are not supposed to wear in the pool--maybe we need to change her necklace.  Hours after I put on her newest hazel wood necklace, fever completely gone.  

The most visibly magical part of this necklace is the wood actually changes appearance from smooth and light to dark and lined, like a peeling tree trunk, as the body reacts with the hazel wood.   

For more details about the properties of hazel wood and amber teething necklaces, and/or to buy a hazel wood necklace for a baby, child or an adult, visit

As for the Tummy Tub, when I first saw it I was completely freaked out: crazy baby in a bucket, and yet days later, my mind demanded: must have it.  That's because it makes so much sense!  This tub mimics the fetal position, and with warm water, Mirth has found prenatal bliss in a bathtub.   It has been a go to for anything that may be troubling her; she calms  down (and has begun to splash and play with delight) 100% of the time we use it.  

(My other newborn must-haves are a pilates ball for bouncing, kiddopatumus swaddler, sheepskin mat for floor time, playsilks, and Cocyntal homeopathic remedy by Boiron.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

I have adopted the "Friday Ritual" as seen on the crafty feminine mama blogs I have been following lately, and I hope you do too.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shouldn't Every Classroom Be Moveable?

This article is a must share, it made my night, especially because I have a daughter who was made for loving this classroom style.  These pictures are from Pinehill Waldorf School in New Hampshire, where they have decided to follow their European brothers (it's big in Europe!) and neuroscience and make a classroom where kids can wholly learn. So refreshing, inspiring and revolutionary to see the whole child, the child who loves to learn and needs to move, addressed in something so taken for granted, a desk.

Here is an excerpt:

"Evidence indicates, for example, that there is a connection between postural control and the executive function of attention. Postural control is the ability to stabilize the trunk, neck, and head so that skilled tasks, such as reading and writing, can occur. Executive functions (EFs)are cognitive abilities such as attention, self-control, and problem-solving that govern other learning tasks. In the early elementary years, if postural tone is weak (i.e., when a child’s body lacks sufficient muscle tension to maintain an upright position), there are greater demands placed on the executive system (i.e., a child needs her brain power to stabilize her balance rather than to focus on a lesson). This means that a child has fewer cognitive resources to use for paying attention. Slouching in a chair, fidgeting and wiggling, or flopping over a desk are symptoms of postural fatigue and therefore poor attention. So, when we help a child develop her postural control, her executive function of attention can switch over to learning."

My heart leaps because it is so obvious that in addition to all of the developmental neural boosting, it is just fertilizer for self-esteem: the owning a workspace that can be shared with a partner, used individually, turned upside down and balanced on, and carried across a room.  Please read this article.  The moveable classroom is amazing!  I have never seen anything more child friendly than a moveable classroom.  I sound like Dr. Suess.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Room of One's Own

Painted by Kimberly Culotta
"There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, 'Consume me'."
— Virginia Woolf 

This summer while Mudi was at an art class in Pasadena, I spent some afternoons at the Pasadena Waldorf School with Mirth not for any reason, but to take it in while the children weren't there, after all, I have become once again consumed by early childhood.

I snapped this with my phone on the walkway to a classroom literally moments after I was wondering...

We sat under glorious trees that never ended.   We spoke with John  who was sanding and renewing  children's desks.  He offered some leads on where to find logs for my classes.  His wife teaches string music at the school, and he's just lending a hand.

We  eavesdropped on childless classrooms that were imbued with a rich amber hue, and still had nature tables out offering imagination itself a place to play. 

Upon arrival one day, we visited the Wishing Well, and I was delighted with all of the handcrafted mobiles.  I  shared with Kaki, the store mom, that I already felt Mudi's room was too filled for another mobile even though...  Kaki offered a thought: how about changing the child's room to reflect the season, and what the child is processing at the moment?

What an obvious idea, and though I am pretty well-studied, it never occurred to me before.  So, shortly after that discussion, I took down half of the room, and left up that which reflected "summer" and turning seven.

An Octopus' Garden created by: Mudi at Create

Thanks to those visits to a childless Waldorf school in the heart of summer, I am inspired and rightly permitted to continue to (co)create the room that never ends.

Of course, the angel hanging over Mirth's changing table is a doll for all seasons.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Under the Sky: You Can Judge a Book By It's Cover

I am fortunate that there are endless books I want to read, and usually there are a few I am reading at one time.

I am so pleased that I just had to read this one sooner based on cover and title alone: Under the Sky: Playing, Working and Enjoying Adventures in the Open Air, and it didn't disappoint.

In fact, I am reminded of the life-altering seminar I took with Carla Hannaford where we watched a documentary film of children who went to a Forest School, and how moved I was; if only I  could send my own children to school there.

Sally Schweizer's book couldn't have come at a better time than when I am planning for my next series of classes.

I needed an inspirational reminder that children, when given the opportunity to take calculated risks, will reap great rewards of attunement, spatial awareness and self-confidence, and it is even okay to fall, and children, left to their own devices, get up and do it over again.

(Most importantly, Sally reminded me to include the tree rope ladder as part of the curriculum for Wilderness and Me!  Thank you Ms. Schweizer.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Now We Are Seven

When I have said my evening prayer,
And my clothes are folded on the chair,
And mother switches off the light,
I'll still be 6 years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I'll be 7 years old.
7 kisses when I wake,
7 candles on my cake.


In 14 days my older daughter, Mudi, becomes seven years-old.  I am thankful that I have slowed down a little bit, and I seem to be getting my wish of being more "in" the days of parenting.

When I look back on parenting, the Homer Simpson, Doh!, is what I tend to hear myself say, in fact I really see myself as Homer sometimes, minus the Duff beer and power plant job.  I seem to find the intuition, the information and parenting advice I fall in love with, just after the moment has passed, just beyond me.  Today I feel like I am "in"it:  in my shoes, in my parenting, in my home and in the moment.

Seven years is so momentous, and being familiar, with gratitude and awe, with the work of Rudolf Steiner, and the work of so many wise people to follow that lineage, I know it is truly a new chapter for her.  As she begins the next year and next years of childhood, I give us both the gift of starting over again and again.

With the birth of Mirth, now 4 months-old, I feel I am given another opportunity to color the family, create the new, embrace the existing, and hold us dear.  I call it my "do-over."

This birthday for me is the beginning of a new parenthood that I may not do perfectly but won't wish I did differently.

Happy Birthday