Hello friends and welcome December! December is a treasured month for our family, as we slow down and turn inward and simplify. This month’s newsletter is focused on Simplicity. Simple activities, simply celebrating and simplifying gifts.
It’s also about kindling the light within, and sharing it with your family, friends and community. As always, I welcome your comments and encourage you to share this newsletter with your online community. Blessings on December!
This month you will find:
- Simply celebrating the holiday season & simplifying gifts.
- Simple crafts, activities and a sweet finger play to share.
- Self-Care invitations for parents.
- Simple and nourishing holiday recipes.
Years ago in my LifeWays training in 2007, a colleague shared a gem of inspiration to keep in mind when carng for young children: Little is big and slow is good. It’s such a simple phrase, but yet it felt like a guiding light as a teacher. Now, as a parent, that phrase is one of our family mantras…especially in the holiday season when there can be so much to do.
My mantra this month is Presence>Presents.
A few ways we put that into each day is with an advent style calendar of contemplations and good deeds. Each day I can hold a intention which ripples out into the family, or we can do something simple and special.
Feel free to share the link with your online community and help the ripple of good deeds expand into homes and communitites everywhere.
Use hashtags #motheringarts and #heartofthehome to enter a drawing to win our one year Heart of the Home online course.
This practice of intentional parenting is the foundation of our year long online course called, The Heart of the Home. This self-paced online course supports mothers to shine as the light of her family. You can start any time, and re-visit when you feel inspired. Every month, we create a clear intention which is the essence of all that ripples out into the family. It all starts with a thought. The rhythm of the seasons offers a comfortable flow to the year as well as a true magic that mother nature offers every moment. The course has inspiring reading, journal and conversation prompts, valuable offerings from our collective of wise women contributors, lots of printable worksheets, journal pages, guides, checklists, a family vision statement, a beautiful perpetual calendar, recipes, songs, games, stories, resources, a monthly live video conversation and a lively community of mothers just like you ready to support and share ideas.
Pay $20 month for one year, then have lifetime access…
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Do you know the song, It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)? Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong give it all they got when performing this old song and it makes me want to dance, tap my feet, snap my fingers and move! To see and hear Ella singing , click: Sing it, Ella!
Well, this catchy song is what I want you to remember when choosing or requesting toys for your young child. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that “ing”!
Think of the ING that the toy will inspire within your child. For example, a doll will inspire your child to engage in caring, feeding, rocking, dressing, talking, etc…. Your child is an active participant with simple “open ended” toys. Some examples are, building blocks and forts, cooking meals in a play kitchen, swinging on a rope swing, rocking on a rocker board, caring for a doll, riding a bike, dressing up in silks, digging sand or dirt. Your child is more passive with a battery operated truck that needs no engagement to move and makes it’s own sounds or a movie that inspires sitting and little imagination. Choose toys that ignite creativity, an object that could be anything you can imagine will cultivate creativity and free thinking.
Ask yourself, is my child playing with this toy or is my child a passive participant to this toy’s actions? Focus on the “ing”.
Another favorite resource which helps you share with families your wises for your gifts is, The SoKind registry.
A free online registry to share with family and friends that is focused on the gift of experience and meaningful time, it’s full of great suggestions. We have used the SoKind registry for two years now and it has really helped guide family members to give the gift of fun. A few items that we have received are: passes to our local children’s museum, a semester of music together classes, our annual parks pass, swim lessons, a day at train town, a horsey ride, and a few nights of camping.
It’s helpful to offer this to family members who might not be aligned with your vision of simple and meaningful gifts.
Simple Games to share with your little ones:
Along a came a bunny, and what do you suppose? (Hands show the bunny hopping)
That hungry little bunny, looking for his lunch, (wiggle nose like a bunny)
Ate the snowman’s carrot nose, Nibble, nibble, crunch (pretend to eat the carrot)
~from Oak meadow fingerplays
This simple rhyme/game has been delightful with children as young as one year all the way through kindergarten. I wonder what you will find in your magical box….
Here is the box (use one cupped hand as the box)
Here is the lid (use the other palm placed over the cupped hand to create a lid)
I wonder what inside is hid? (peek under the lid)
Oh, it is a ____, no doubt! Let’s open the lid and let it out. (use your imagination to tell what is inside the box and let it out)
After modeling for your child, you can ask them what is in the box or have them make their own magical box. Some favorites are a mousie who scampers out, a winter fairy who might flutter by, a brilliant crystal, let your imagination run wild!
I love to reuse reduce and repurpose, and I love to make sweet things to keep my son cozy. Here is a simple pattern for a snow pixie hat made from a re purposed wool sweater. This super easy tutorial is from iammommahearmeroar.com
Another simple hat tutorial from baby size to adult size made from an upcycled t-shirt. The slouchy beanie by imaginegnats.com
Now I know what to do with those old sentimental concert t-shirts!
Using kite paper, decorate your windows with lovely stars. We like using white, golden and silver colors this time of year. This year we might try a printed design. Sarah Baldwin from Bella Luna Toys offers a short video tutorial to show you how. Window Star Tutorial
Be careful, it can be addicting!
Rolled beeswax candles are super easy and a great gift. Just purchase a few beeswax sheets (they come in many colors), and a yard or so of wick. We like to cut some of the sheets in half to make shorter candles. Just place the wick string on one end of the wax sheet and roll it up, that’s it! We also found a tiny star cookie cutter, cut out some stars from a golden beeswax sheet and pressed them as decorations on our candles. Children of all ages can help with this simple activity.
For more ideas, check out the Mothering Arts Pinterest boards.
One way to cultivate simplicity is to create a home rhythm that is rooted and balanced. Enrollment is always open to sign up for our Healthy Home Rhythms E-Course. Printable rhythm wheels for each season that are pretty enough to pin to your refrigerator reflect the needs of your family. A printable meal planner that sets you up for a nourishing week that is well thought out ahead of time. The course offers lots of resources and support to help you create an easy to follow rhythm unique to your family. Join now for $40 and have lifetime access.
“The concepts and ideas in this course offer modern families a platform of values that will enhance and change lives. In its simplicity, the effect is powerful. It has the capacity to truly make a parents journey more enjoyable and more importantly, it offers space and time to create a deeper connection as a family.” ~J. Lawless
Self-Care for Parents
Practice a pause throughout your day. Create space for quiet and stillness. Model the importance of being still and peaceful during our shortest days and longest nights. Light a candle or a fire. Walk beneath the stars. Unplug. Write a letter of gratitude to a friend, family member or to yourself. Say no to an event. Say yes to rest. Embrace your role as the magic keeper this holiday. Organize friends to go caroling at a senior home. Add some fir or balsam oil to your oil diffuser, one of our Mothering Artists Jaime is a rep for Young Living oils and you can buy them here. Turn on your email’s vacation responder over Christmas or longer.
What kind of family do we want to be?
What kinds of activities bring well-being to our family?
When do I feel still and peaceful?
What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home?
How can we become more service-oriented as a family?
What does enough feel like?
If you have an invitation to a cookie exchange but are shying away from all of the sweets, this recipe is for you. Almond Thumb Print Cookies with Chia Jam.
Grain Free, sugar free and easy to make. They can be filled with just about anything from fresh fruit, nutella or jam. Children love to help make these because the dough is yummy and they can use their sweet little fingers to make the print. I’m hungry just thinking about them.
The slow cooker is like my personal assistant in the winter months. I use it for popping in a dinner before I set out for the day as well as bone broth simmering. A simple recipe from Harvest to Table.
Here in northern California, tis the season for foraging for mushrooms! Just a few weeks ago my son was off with his friend whose parents are keen mushroom finders. They brought home a nice bag of fresh picked porcinis for us and they were oh so yummy. This recipe from The Kitchn is on deck for Saturday night.
Our next Mothering Arts group leader training is scheduled for February 18th and is already filling up! If you are interested in creating a multi-generational circle that nurtures mothers and babies in your community, this training is for you. Our one week online course has inspired many women (and one man) to become an inspiring presence in their own town.
Click here to learn more. Spaces are limited to 12 participants and enrollment is open now, early bird discount for registering beofre January 1st.
Merry Christmas Season from my family to yours.
with heart, Kerry