Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Procrastination Game

We've been an infectious lot around here for the last week and a half. With a nasty 'flu (I hate to use the term flu lightly, but this is doctor diagnosed 'flu!!!) and conjunctivitus - things have been somewhat chaotic.

The upside of all this illness is that its made me realise how vitally important 'systems' are to running a house - and how quickly things turn to custard when the systems fly out the window. So because we were sick I didn't do a menu plan, I just shoppped on the fly. Result - we ate all sorts of unusual meals because I didn't have the right ingredients, I had to do an emergency trip to the shops for more yoghurt, and I through out a whole shopping back of unused fruit and veggies yesterday. The waste ... the shame ...

So today's email from Flylady seemed particularly apt

"One of the worst places of procrastination has to do with preparingmeals--not taking food from the freezer, not making a shopping list,not having a prepared pantry. All these "nots", make for mealtimemayhem--a place we don't want to go.Let's face it: we all have our own dinner table fantasies. A lovelydinner served on a lovely table while fresh scrubbed, happy-facedchildren compliment their mother on the wonderful, home-cooked mealand dad is home on time to take part. How much of this is reality?Probably not much. Kids have soccer, mom has a job and everyone isgoing in a million different directions. Even though there are certain parts of that fantasy we can't make happen, there are certain parts we can make happen"

When I first started blogging I was pretty religious about Menu Planning Monday - and it worked really well for me. I fell off the MPM bandwagon though because honestly, who wants to know what I'm having for dinner every night? And, the perfectionist in me says that if I'm going to do Menu Planning Monday I should be as organized as Planning Queen who posts recipes files and shopping lists each week! ButI firmly believe that public accountability gets results - so here is what we are having for dinner for the rest of this week ...

Organic beef and garlic sausages, home made potato and kumara wedges, carrot and parsnip ribbons, broccoli.

Steak sandwiches with salad greens, tomatoes, caramelised onions ... and more home made wedges. I have lot of great agria potatoes to use up!

Spaghetti bolognaise, with leftover salad from Thursday. And something yummy for dessert ... maybe a lemon cake as I have lots of lemons to use up too.

Parents to the rescue with some 'meals on wheels'. My Dad's wife is something of a gourmet legend so its going to be great.

Leftover pie

And for those of you asking what leftover pie is .....

Leftover pie
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and par-boiled
4 eggs, beaten
3 sausages, or other left over meat, diced
cubes of fetta, or other left over cheese, diced
red or yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes, or other suitable veggies
Pan fry the potatoes. Add them to the beaten eggs along with the ‘leftovers’ and return to the fry pan. Cook on each side until well cooked. Great hot or cold, serve with lots of relish and some salad.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worth musing over

I love these excerpts from ‘The Playcentre Way’ which is an old (1980?) book by Alisa Densem, and thought I'd share them.

‘Children can be exposed to an enormous number of concepts simply with a word, a question, or a sensitive comment. Such as:

Can you tell me about …?
What do you think about ….?
Tell me more.
How do you explain that?
What do you think?
Wonder what would happen if?
How can we do?
Could we build this with this?
Lets see if – Lets’ find out.
How does is feel?
Shall we try?


Make necessary limits. Children accept limits from people who genuinely care for them. It takes time to build up trust. Every adult is responsible for not permitting a child to act in undesirable ways such as hurting others, or taking things from others, or being destructive. It is unwise to disregard unacceptable behaviour, such as hitting another child, in the hope that the situation will right itself. WE help the aggressor in the long run by stopping his behaviour on the stop where it occurs in a matter-of-fact way. We can say "no" so that he child knows we mean it, without resorting to physical punishments ourselves. We may take away the stick he has used to hit with, or the toy he has misused. He may protest, he may resist, he may be angry with us. He has the right to feel any way he wishes, but he doesn’t not have the right to act in any way he wishes. We are helping him to learn the difference between the inner world of feelings, where behaviour must be limited and controlled.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

H is for ...

Hypocrite! I must confess dear readers that I have bought something that is neither made from natural fibres, and is definately made in China.

I bought Munchkin a Kathmandu polar fleece hoodie. They are pretty much the Kiwi kids uniform you see - lightweight, very warm, easy to wash and quick to dry. I was frustrated at the wear and tear on her beautiful woollen jumpers, and how bundled up she need to be to stay warm outside. It was cold, Kathmandu is close to my house, they were having their big 'sale' (no one buys Kathmandu at full price!) and well, I succumbed to consumer tempation.

I am not sure whether Kathmandu have any kind of ethical manufacturing policy. I can't find any evidence of it - even for their 'organic' line of clothing. I've emailed them - I'll let you know if I get a response.

My social conscience started clanging so loud, that I went next door to Trade Aid and bought Munchkin a beautiful soft ball made by a women's Fair Trade co-operative in Guatemala. Kind of like having a diet coke with your Big Mac, but it made my feel better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Waldorfy Playcentre Dream

My visit to Playcentre really has had my thinking about what my ideal ECE experience would be for Munchkin.

I love the fact that parents stay with the children at Playcentre most of the time, and the level of involvement and influence parents have there.

I love the free play aspect of Playcentre – having all the areas of play available, all the time. So if Munchkin wants to do nothing but play with clay, all session for a whole term – she can.

I love the community aspect of Playcentre – working closely with other local mums running what is effectively a complete early childhood centre – and developing that community for Munchkin.

But … I love the beauty and rhythm of Steiner. I love the simple handcrafted toys. I love the singing. I love the focus on healthy organic food and care for the environment. And most of all I love the other mums. As a group they are gentle, patient, kind, thoughtful and committed. The Steiner ‘culture’ is where I want Munchkin to be during these early years.

So if I had my way, I would set up a Steiner/Waldorf Playcentre. I’m sure the Steiner purists out there might have a few issues with this, and some of my ideas might have Gwen Somerset turning in her grave - but just indulge me.

We’d find a lovely big section somewhere, preferably surrounded by forest and some hills. We’d build a beautiful big log cabin, with a communal kitchen and a pot belly stove. We’d have a little garden area for the older children to grow some veggies, (and so we can have a compost of course),

Inside, we would set up areas of play, and arrange the space so that the quieter activities have slightly enclosed spaces for children to play in. There would be a books corner, with the Gerda Muller books, some simple fairy tales, and New Zealand classics like Hairy Maclary, The Kuia and the Spider and Who Sank the Boat.

There would be a table set up for beeswax modeling, another set up with beeswax crayons. There would be a painting station set up, as well as a finger painting table so the kids could get plain old messy. And there would be home made playdough at another table, with a few wooden rolling pins, dough stamps and cutters.

Of course, there would be a family play area with beautiful Waldorf dolls, a wooden stove and sink, some cradles and pushchairs. We’d have lots of blocks and a selection of puzzles. (As an aside, why are puzzles not a Steiner thing?)

The communal kitchen would have some low benches and quality children’s baking equipment, so that the children could help with baking the bread for the morning tea. Perhaps in afternoon sessions we would make pikelets or scones instead. Either way, we’d do some baking every day.

Outside, there would be an extensive wooden playground, some trees for climbing, grass for running and a trickling water feature set into a slope for water play. Oh, and a huge sandpit of course, filled with spades and spoons and buckets and sit on diggers.

While free play would be the order of the day, we would have a little more ‘rhythm’ than a Playcentre session.

The sessions would start with a communal ‘circle time’. Not compulsory - some children prefer to stay back - I have seen this often at playgroup. But after a few sessions even the shyest child starts to come to circle time. We would sing a welcome song and some finger play songs like ‘where is thumbkin’ and ‘open shut them’.

I also really believe in the value of a shared morning tea. My understanding of the Playcentre philosophy is that children’s play shouldn’t be interrupted, and children should be free to come and get their food when they wish. But I see how much children love the rituals of eating together – putting out the placemats and the glasses, sitting down to hold hands and sing a blessing, and the excitement when the buns are unveiled. Of course, if a child is hungry at another time during the session they should of course get a snack. And if a child does not want to join the morning tea then that should be respected. But a shared morning tea is an important ritual.

At the end of the session we would have a short ‘story time’ with a parent acting out a very brief puppet play with felted dolls and some play silks to create the scene. At our playgroup, when all the children are worn out from a mornings playing this seems a lovely way to wind down before getting in cars or pushchairs to go back home.

As with Playcentre (and with my experience of Steiner) parent education would be extremely important. We would have a well stocked adult library with a range of books – You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, Creative Play for your Baby, A range of La Leche League Publications, Magic Places and other Playcentre books.

So, who’s with me? What would you add, or change to this? Even if it will only ever exist in my imagination, my Waldorfy Playcentre is a lovely place to visit!