Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{Éirinn go Brách}

It's March, the month of shamrocks and shillelaghs! To get us into the spirit of things, I decided to crochet up a shamrock garland. 

I was inspired by this tutorial: http://sarahndipities.indiemade.com/blog/things-make-crochet-shamrock-garland-pattern but I changed up the pattern a bit. Here's my take on it!

I used a super chunky yarn (Lion Brand Homespun USA) and a size N crochet hook so this worked up very quickly. 

For Leaf

Start with a magic circle
*Chain 3
Treble crochet
Double crochet
Treble crochet x 2
Slip stitch into magic circle
Repeat from * two more times for a shamrock or three more times for a lucky four-leaf clover

For Stem

After last leaf, chain 5
Half double crochet into 2nd chain from hook
Slip stitch into remaining chain
Fasten off and weave in ends

For Garland

Chain 25
*Single crochet into top of shamrock
Chain 10
Repeat from * until all shamrocks are attached to garland
Chain 25
Fasten off

I started this on Sunday evening, during a family movie night, and finished up before lunch on Tuesday. I really only worked on it in bits and pieces and, after the first three shamrocks, I didn't have to even think about the pattern anymore. My final garland ended up with 15 light green shamrocks, 15 dark green shamrocks and one lucky four-leaf clover but you could make this as long or as short as you like. I'm also thinking of whipping up a headband for Gracie with a shamrock or two on top for her wearin' o' the green on St. Patrick's Day. 

This is the first crochet pattern I've ever worked up and wrote out, let me know what you think! Was it easy to understand? Did it come out well? If you don't recognize a stitch, I've found YouTube to be a fabulous resource!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

{natural science}

My nephew, Kai, will be five in May and is an expert on all things creepy and crawly. At home, he has a terrarium with a frog named Star Wars and Alexander the Salamander. 

He and his brother came for a visit after naps today and he quickly organized a rock-flipping creature hunt. In a matter of minutes, they had racked up an impressive catch-and-release scoreboard, a giant slug, countless snails, and TWO salamanders!

He spent the next several minutes teaching his spellbound audience about how to carefully handle them, why you need to wash your hands after picking them up and their cool trick of regrowing their body parts if they get injured. It was very interesting and we all learned a lot!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

{listen in}

We had quite a bit of rain over the three-day weekend and, as a result, our very deep sandbox was filled with water but the level has gradually dropped all week. On Tuesday, it was nearly up to their hips. On Wednesday, below their knees. Today, it was a lot of wet sand for building and some very low splash puddles. The following conversation is between Lars, who turned three in December, and Landon, who will be three next Wednesday. 

Landon: Awwww... Where did all the water go?! It's gone!

Lars: But, we have lots o'mud! For mudpies, let's make some!

Landon: Yeah but, the puddle is gone! Where did the water go?

Lars: Don't worry buddy, it went up to da clouds! It went up to da clouds but it'll be rain soon. It'll be back and we will have LOTS of water! 

Landon: Oh, yeah! It's up in da cloud! I forgot! It be back soon! 

Why, yes, that is a couple of three-year-olds discussing the water cycle, as a matter of fact. It's just one of the many real life things that they've observed with their own eyes and have come to understand the principle of, just by living with it. Life IS the curriculum! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Our School Menu

I finally had the time to put together our lunch menu!  When planning the calendar, I relied heavily on a great article in Lilipoh about the Kimberton Waldorf School's lunch program, Food For Thought.  It's run by Karen Flores and is truly one of a kind!  I hope to chat with Karen soon about planning, prep and including students but, for now, I think we've got a pretty good foundation in place.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

{february focus)

We are looking forward to a wonderful February! After having pancakes for breakfast, we'll be making beeswax candles today with the preschool kiddos to celebrate Candlemas.  Candlemas is always February 2 and it marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox so it means we're exactly halfway through Winter!

Whether Candlemas be dark or clear, 40 days of Winter will still be here.

A candle's but a simple thing, 

it starts with just a bit of string.


But dipped and dipped with patient hand,

it gathers wax upon the strand.


Until complete and snowy white, 

it gives at last a lovely light.

 Life seems so like that bit of string,

each deed we do, a simple thing.


Yet day by day on life's strand, 

we work with patient heart and hand. 

It gathers joy, makes dark days bright

and gives at last a lovely light.

The rest of February will be quite full as well!  We'll be planting bulbs and sharing stories about Mother Earth and her Root Children.

Mother Earth wakes her children.

February is also the perfect time to begin our Spring Cleaning!

Spring Cleaning 

Furniture shifted, 
rugs lifted, 
cushions whacked, 
pillows smacked. 
Scrubbing brushes whizzing by 
while the feather dusters fly. 
Busy mop, 
dizzy broom, 
vacuum cleaner roaring- 
Help! it's heading for... 
my room

Thursday, January 30, 2014

{listen in}

Sophie, 4yo, as she's changing:

These are my armpits and you may NOT tickle them. They are very special because they're on my body and it's MY body. 

{that's right, sister-friend, it's YOUR body. don't you forget it!}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Part Time Coworker Position

We're looking for one more wonderful coworker for our nursery school program in Windsor. The position we are hoping to fill is our Afternoon Caretaker which is  mostly a housekeeping position - cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen, bathroom and diaper area at the end of the day, putting the last load of laundry away, making sure the floors get vacuumed after the last kiddo heads home, etc... We need help from 2 or 3pm to about 6:30pm on Tues, Wed & Thurs every week. Please shoot an email to Sarah if you're interested or if you have any questions! Our email button is at the top right of the blog. :)

What are we looking for in our Caretaker?

Warmth:  A warm relationship is one in which the caregiver shows a genuine love for the child, which is not the same as coddling.  We support and encourage the child, but not in a way that holds the child back from developing independence, taking necessary risks, or undertaking challenging tasks.

Appreciation:  Childhood is an authentic time unto itself, not just a time to prepare for schooling.  A good caregiver appreciates the children in his or her care as individuals who are worth getting to know. They are not simply "incompetent adults" who need to be molded in a certain way and filled up with knowledge to become productive members of society.  The caregiver takes the time to get to know the child's likes, dislikes, temperament, fears, sense of humor and other aspects of the child's unique personality.

Joyfulness:  Young children radiate joy.  Often when an adult interacts with a little one, we see the adult's face soften immediately.  The young child's joy is contagious.  Amid the day-to-day work of caring for a group of young children, however, many adults find it difficult to maintain that joy.  A caregiver who, after the third dirty diaper of the morning and countless runny noses, is able to stop and genuinely appreciate a bouquet of wilted dandelions from a sweaty, out-of-breath child, is a treasure.  Indeed, the best caregivers share the child's pleasure in all of his new discoveries throughout the day, and they have an inner joy that truly meets the wonder of the child.

Adaptability:  Life with young children is never predictable, and while a good caregiver creates a strong and healthy schedule for the group to follow, coworkers must be able to "go with the flow."  This is one reason why we often refer to the rhythm of the day as opposed to a mere schedule.. Rhythm indicates a more dynamic ebb and flow f activity that adepts somewhat to the needs of the group, whereas a strict schedule can feel oppressive and rigid.  

Reverence:  Often, people lament that children in our modern culture are growing up with  lack of respect for people an things.  Reverence, the honoring and respecting of the divine in all things, is important to foster in early childhood.  However, like many important traits, this cannot be taught through words or doctrine but must be living in the adults who are caring for the child.  
The foundation of reverence is gratitude, Does the caregiver show gratitude for those people and things around her?  This will cultivate a sense of gratitude in the child.

Ability to Work With Other Adults:  With coworkers, a caregiver's flexibility is important.  "my way or the highway" doesn't work well in most environments, especially in a small child care center where the adults are in fairly close contact all day long.  Staff members must be willing to work together to create an environment where concerns can be voiced, ideas can be shared, and mistakes are forgiven.  

Good Health:  The daily work of caring for young children can be physically demanding and exhausting.  Lifting and carrying children, bending or squatting to help with diapering, toileting, and dressing are just a few of the activities that a caregiver engages in throughout the day.  A caregiver of little children is also exposed to more germs that the average person.  Those adults who are in relatively good physical health are much more able to to meet the demands of the job.

Interest in Domestic Arts:  Cheese & Quackers is a LifeWays program.  LifeWays is a model of home, not school, so it is important that Cheese & Qauckers staff are open to learning and embracing the domestic arts.  Many caregivers of young children today are experienced in the art projects, theme-based curriculum, and "activity centers" common in many child care programs; but very few have real life experience with or even respect for the home arts.  Decades ago, children learned the arts of cooking, baking, mending, simple woodworking, and gardening in the home.  When they themselves became parents or caregivers of children, these skills were passed on through the tasks of everyday living.  Over time, many of these activities have disappeared from our home lives, so the adults who are entering into the child care field today don't often have any life experience in these areas.
A good coworker may or may not have a background in the domestic arts, but must be open to learning and applying these skills in his or her work with the children.

Timeliness & Efficiency:  The kitchen is often the central hub of our program. and the mood in the kitchen permeates the whole home.  The caretaker who joyfully and calmly prepares the food, chats with the children as they pass through the kitchen during the day, and takes time to beautifully set the table sets the mood for every child and caregiver in the space.  Contrast this mood to the one set by the caretaker who runs in late, prepares snack as quickly as possible while preoccupied with other things, and does little more than "throw" the food on the table.

Cleanliness:  At Cheese & Quackers, our caretaker tends to the overall cleanliness and order of the home, which is no small task considering that a number of adults and children use the space regularly.  While the children and their caregivers participate in some of the household tasks and in washing dishes after lunch, it is the caretaker who gives the kitchen its final touches.  Our caretaker assumes responsibility for the general cleanliness of the common areas as well.  For instance, when all the children come in from outside before lunch, their boots may occasionally end up in a somewhat disorganized heap outside the door, despite the caregiver's best efforts to encourage the children to line them up tidily.  Often the person who has the time to tidy and straighten all those boots is the caretaker, who sweeps and washes the floor after lunch while the children are settled in for their naps.  It is very satisfying to see the coats, boots, hats, and mittens all straightened out in a careful manner.  It sends a comforting message to both the parents and the children about the care we take of the children's belongings. 


  • Child supervision
  • Prepping for and clearing away group activities
  • Tidying the play yard
  • Tidying and sweeping the front porch & walkway
  • Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming daily
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen, diaper changing area, and bathroom
  • Dishes
  • Laundry (including cloth diapers)
  • Windows
  • Dusting
  • Emptying garbage at the end of the day 
  • Disinfecting and tidying the nap room 
  • Prepping food for the next day (chopping, soaking and/or pulling ingredients from the freezer)
  • Help with all closing duties including straightening the play room, stocking diapers & wipes, putting laundry away, etc...

Requirements to Start Work

  1. TB test clearance (must be less than 1 year old)
  2. Current CPR & First Aid or have training scheduled
  3. Fingerprinting (paperwork and fee will be provided upon hiring, must be completed within one week)

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