The first half of December

December is well under way. We’ve had plenty happening and much more breathing out time in the coming weeks.

Our advent spiral for this year.

As part of our third grade journey, we learned about Hanukkah, which lasted all of last week. My third grader made a menorah and helped light it each night. On the first night, we said a traditional prayer during the lighting. We read lots of library story books about Hanukkah. We made latkes and challah. We made dreidels out of two kinds of clay. (We also made some Christmas tree ornaments.)

We celebrated St Nicholas’ day. No pictures, as I forgot. St Nick brought everyone chocolate coins and wool socks.

This week, we are celebrating St Lucia’s day, which is tomorrow. In preparation, today we made lussekater (Lucy buns), pepparkakor (small ginger cookies), a crown for my daughter and two star boy hats for my sons. They plan on waking up before me tomorrow morning and brining it in to me for breakfast. It may be tricky to wake up before me, as my baby is an early riser. It’ll be fun either way!

Learning about Rosh Hashanah

As part of our third grade year, we are learning about and exploring the Jewish festivals. Our first one to come up was Rosh Hashanah and we had such a fun time celebrating it.

It was a few weeks ago, so I’m a bit tardy on writing up this post.

Here are some pictures from our celebrations.

I made two loaves of vegan challah, one to have each night. There are different traditional foods that are eaten, depending upon the culture/region. We ended up checking out the book shown above from the library and used that to plan our meal. While a Seder isn’t always done at Rosh Hashanah, it was a great way to really learn about this festival. Rosh Hashanah is like the Jewish New Year. A Seder is basically when you eat certain foods that represent something or have meaning, in a certain order.

The kids spent the week before reading picture books from the library about the festival.

We ate dates stuffed with walnuts, apples dipped in honey, green beans, leeks, spinach salad, winter squash with couscous, and a head of lettuce made into a salad. (We didn’t manage to get to the store to buy a pomegranate.). We also had grape juice in lieu of wine, and of course, the challah.

We lit the candle before we began and before each dish, we said the blessing (in English). The book above explains the reason for each food as well as giving the blessing in English and Hebrew to be said before eating the food.

We celebrated Rosh Hashanah two nights, although we only did a full Seder on the first night. On the second night, we had challah and apples and honey and said some blessings.

We will be celebrating Sukkot this coming week. I’m not sure what kind of a shelter we will manage to build, but we’ll figure something out. It’s sure to be fun, though!

Finishing off our first week not-back to school

We had some bumps along the way this week, but finished on a good note today.

Some pictures from our day.

Vegan nectarine cookies that I made with my Kindergartener.

Form drawing review for the third grader.

Daily math practice sheet for the 3rd grader.

The third grader was learning about the Jewish days of the week and months, as part of his block on the Old Testament stories.

Speaking of OT stories, I just got these two gems in the mail today. I’m a huge Roy Wilkinson fan. These are for the parent/teacher to read, not the student.

Our family isn’t religious, though we are spiritual and I’ve done a TON of inner work over the past five years to get though the baggage I used to have around all things Christian. I’m looking forward to this block because I grew up never knowing any of these stories, many of which are woven into the everyday of our cultural references. Who is Cain? Lot? Seth? I grew up in the dark about who these characters were.

This is the block that often turns people away from choosing Waldorf. Many people are very uncomfortable telling the OT stories to their child if they are not Christian or Jewish. And I get that. That would have been me six years ago! I often joke that it’s a good thing that when we started using Waldorf education with my oldest, he wasn’t in third grade (he started in fourth grade) because I would have been turned off and immediately said no and we would have missed out on the education model that is a perfect fit for our family. But when you look at the curriculum as a whole, when you zoom out and see the big picture, it becomes clear that it isn’t about indoctrinating your child. It is about how these stories speak to the child on a soul level, meeting them where they are at developmentally. In first grade, it is fairy tales. In second grade, it is stories of saints (from any religion or tradition you choose). In third grade, it is the OT stories. The third grader is entering a new developmental period, leaving the misty imaginary realm of young childhood and on the brink of adolescence. They are in the thick of the nine year change. This is a time when the stark black and white of the OT stories speaks to the child in a unique level. In fourth grade, it is Norse mythology stories. In fifth grade, Greek mythology stories.

You can approach the OT stories as fact or myth, depending upon your family’s beliefs. For us, they are a story, just like the other mythologies.

Baking day

Thursdays are my baking day. I’m down one child and we have a more relaxed day, generally. Today I made 5 loaves of bread, 3 sourdough and 2 yeasted. All but one will go into the freezer to be eaten over the next 1-2 weeks.

This is no-knead sourdough that I started last night. I bake it in a ducth oven.

Mixing up the dough for today’s baking. The bowl on the left become two sandwich loaves and the other smaller bowl, a sourdough boule each.

The loaf on the left has already been tucked into. And my sandwich loaves are a tad brown as my new oven runs hotter than I am used to.

I love the magic of sourdough. My sourdough is around 3 years old now. I started it myself and it took about a month to really start rising the bread. But my family prefers yeasted sandwich bread so I still bake some of that, as well.