Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding Waldorf

Just FYI, this is not a posting about a skinny guy in a red/white striped shirt or some mystical LOTR journey. For whatever reason, when I see "Waldorf" I instantly think of Frodo, even though *gasp* I have never read or watched any of the LOTR series. I don't know why, but I assumed you needed the heads up.

The term "Waldorf" as it pertains to education stems from a non-traditional approach to learning and teaching developed by Rudolf Steiner in pre-WWII Germany. Generally speaking, it focuses on education of the whole child rather than just one part. For example, while traditional public school puts the most emphasis on the brain and sheer knowledge a given child possesses (think: standardized testing, numbered grading systems, etc), a Waldorf school will focus on teaching the entire child. While factual and logical knowledge is obviously a key element, the artistic and humanistic sides of life are highlighted in a child's journey to adulthood.

While I have known about Waldorf philosophy for some time, I am just now beginning to study it and determine its useful application in my home with my kids. My motivation to bring the Waldorf philosophy into our lives revolves around my oldest son, Kevin. He is so young (a mere 2 1/2 years old) but I have a feeling I know what is coming. He was blessed with my learning abilities and non-linear thinking and his daddy's infamous attention span and never-slows-down personality. Translation = he gets bored easy and fast and doesn't sit quietly for others to catch up.

I know what happens to children like this in public school. And I hate it for that first grade teacher who dares mention medication to either of us. S/he might need a stiff drink after having that conversation. He will need to be challenged in other ways, to be allowed to explore learning in more forms than just paper and pen. While repetition of facts may work well for some children, I can already tell that Kevin will need to experience learning to really enjoy it. And honestly, shouldn't that be the goal anyway? For children to enjoy learning?

Another aspect of the Waldorf education that appeals to us is the focus on nature and seeing yourself as a part of nature...as an equal creature of being rather than a dominator of the environment. Kevin has a facination and true love for the world outdoors, just like his daddy. I want to foster that as much as possible, encourage him to explore nature as often as we can, and pray that he will always have that passion.

Just today, when we got home from a playdate with our little buddies, he wandered over to a tuft of grass (the first few blades are starting to sprout), squatted near it and ran his fingers over the strands of green. Then he patted it down and squealed when the grass sprung back to attention. He buried a few leaves in the small patch of springtime and came running to tell me that he had given the grass some food so it could grow really tall.

He is the inspiration for this journey and I am so thrilled to be taking it with him and sharing it with you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Living & loving a life of humility

I have come to the conclusion that to live Greene, you have to live a life of humility, with a complete disregard for what others think. This rule of thumb has recently presented itself to me recently in a number of ways, and as per the usual, it requires somewhat of a back story.

I suppose it all started about a year ago, really. My career at the cookie mogul was in a downward spiral. Awkward leadership had been replaced with Clueless leadership and many other changes were made that caused me to question my alignment with "real" mission of the organization vs the "public" mission. My regional office was closed and moved into the larger, communal Nashville office. At the same time this controversial change was taking place, Mark was named as the manager of a completely brand new branch of his company. At this point, I was already beginning to think the Universe was trying to tell me something.

The final straw came in early July, when a purely innocent (seriously, it was *nothing* of importance) act on my part was somehow twisted into a sabotage-like conspiracy theory and I was labeled as the sole perpetrator. Yes, me. I am an evil deviant, apparently. Mark and I decided with almost zero consideration that it was time to move on. But, to what?

(Enter) Stay at Home Mommy.

After Zane was born and with a lot of conversation on the topic, we decided that we needed to find an extra $500/month to pay for school (Mark started his journey to a degree in August). But where does a family of four living on one income find $500? It's not in the couch, I promise. I looked. So the logical decision was for me to go to work part-time. Anything where childcare has a cost is almost not worth doing. If I were still at my old job, I would be making a little over $200/week after the extra gas and childcare came out of my paycheck. So the obvious solution is for me to work when Mark can watch the boys. But, he has homework through the week AND he works full time as well, so we decided that anything over 2 nights a week would be too much. And I do love my husband, so I'm not giving up both of our weekend days together. So what kind of place is going to hire someone to work a few nights a week and one weekend day?

(Enter) Publix.

I love shopping there, and I like the atmosphere of the store, and a brand spanking new one is opening up 15 minutes from my house. I asked a friend about the schedule and she promised it was very workable. So I applied, interviewed, background checked, oriented (?), and finally, had my first day. I work in the bakery, bagging bread...cleaning stuff...helping customers. You could train a monkey to do it. And I barely make minimum wage. BUT...it pays right around $125/week, which is our $500...and the hours are perfect for our life. And I'm an exemplary employee (ahem...they don't know I'm a deviant...yet), so it's a win-win for all involved.

(Enter) Judgement.

So here I am, a college graduate with a degree in Corporate Communications, working for a little over federal minimum wage in the bakery of a grocery store. I'm fine with it, my husband is more than fine with it, and when my boys are adults...ask them. I think they will say they were happy about it. More accurately, ask ME when my boys are adults, because I'm pretty sure I'll never regret spending my late 20s as a SAHM.

But this isn't sitting well with the rest of the world, for some reason. People have been questioning this move all along. Several people I know have said they would never work at a Wal-Mart/fast food place/grocery store. Why? Having a degree doesn't make me unqualified to work there. I'm not somehow "lowering" myself to work in a grocery store. I have already discovered that some days, I am truly thankful to get out and do something mindless and to have conversations with adults. It's like going to work is a mini mid-week vaycay for me.

Living Greene is being perfectly happy to clean the drains in the bakery floor, knowing that while it doesn't pay much, it pays enough. And while I don't work often, I have the hours that fit my family. It's understanding why I'm doing this and not caring what other people think of me for it. I already have the best job in the world, being a mommy to two wonderful little guys. And I'm perfectly content to bag bread on the side ;)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Goodwill Hunting

Get it? Good Will Hunting? Man...I'm terrible.

Updating this blog is something that I really want to do often. I have so many ideas to share with everyone, but finding the time is the trouble. I'm hoping to write on more topics soon (re-learning the value of a $ and why we choose to cloth diaper are two in the forefront of my mind) and share my pattern/process for making a Kindle cover. But for today, during naptime, I want to share my recent findings at Goodwill.

Here in Middle TN, the first Saturday of every month is 1/2 off day at Goodwill. For years, I had a standing date with my Gma to be at her house at 7 am to leave for Franklin. On these special days, Goodwill opens an hour early, at 8 am. If you want a decent place in line, you need to be there no later than 7:45. She and I would get our carts (a lesson my sis learned the hard way this past Saturday...always put your hand on a cart, because they WILL run out of them), and stand in the line that forms quickly down the side of the building. We would chat with familiar faces...the same people tend to turn out, and you get to "know" the crowd and wait for the doors to open. During the summer of 2007, when she was in the midst of her battle, she would sit in the car and I would hold two spots in line for us. At around 7:55, she would feebly walk up to stand in line with me. Even now, I can clearly see the weakness in her body being overthrown by the life in her eyes...the excitement of finding "something neat" as she would say.

Flash forward to this past Saturday, and I somehow convinced my little sister to drag out of bed and go with me. She is not a morning person, so I was thrilled to have her along, because it's really not her "thing". We were late, we got to the store at about 8:10, which was fine because the weather was wet and cold and I would not have gotten Zane out of the car to stand in line anyway. We had to make a quick run of it (I have been known to stay in the same Goodwill from 8 am until well past lunchtime) since we had other errands to run in Franklin and still make it home at a decent time. Before Kevin was born, I followed this system on 1/2 off days: Furniture - Shoes - Tops - Pants - Dresses - Men's clothing - Linens - Household - Books. NOW...it's pretty much the same, only with Infants/Childrens in the forefront. I decided to skip over the women's section this time around for two reasons A) I'm still losing weight, so I'm not buying clothes that fit the "current" me unless I need to and B) Zane was wrapped and strapped and snoozing and I was not about to disturb him to try on clothes. I did need to find a dress to wear to a friend's wedding and also at least 1 pair of jeans...the maternity ones are starting to sag really bad and I am not that cool...or that gangsta.

So, in the spirit of tradition, I came home, unloaded all my stuff and took stock. Gma and I used to guesstimate retail cost of our goodies and be thrilled at how much $$ we had saved. I spent $47 at Goodwill and bought several things for all my boys and a few things for me. I've picked the best bargains to highlight, and I did a quick internet search to determine retail price comparisons.
Clothes for Zanie:
Small Wonders "Happy Camper" onesie - $3.50 retail, $.99 Goodwill
Mighty Politey "Stud Muffin" baby tee - $19.95 retail, $.99 Goodwill
Gymboree "Lil' Bully" onesie - $16.95 retail, $.99 Goodwill
Clothes for Kevin:
I Still Live With My Parents tee - $5.99 retail, $.99 Goodwill
Old Navy "vintage" Hotwheels tee - $12.50 retail, $1.25 Goodwill
Ann Taylor Dress for Naomi's Wedding - $88 - $110 retail, $3.99 Goodwill
Various Linens for sewing projects:
Purple - approx 5.5 yards...retail @ 7.99/yd = $44 Goodwill = $1.99 (loved the pattern, see below for project)
Blue - approx 5.5 yards...retail @ 5.99/yd = $33 Goodwill = $1.99 (going to use some of this on a shopping cart cover for Zane)
Dots - approx 2 yards...retail @ 5.99/yd = $12 Goodwill = $.99 (thinking of making reusable shopping totes out of this)
Yellow - approx 1 yard...retail @ 4.99/yd = $5 Goodwill = $.50 (will make an adorable pillowcase dress for a little girl)
I already used some of the purple to make this neat-o sling for Zanie.

And here are my biggest thrills from Saturday:

A pair of Ahnu trail shoes, brand spanking new! $90 retail, $1.99 Goodwill

A pair of North Face hiking shoes, worn but still in good condition. $110 retail, $1.99 Goodwill

I'll save you the trouble of the math, because I already did it! These items have a new retail value of approx $436. I paid $19 for all of it! I did buy some other things, a pair of jeans from the Gap for me...trail pants for Mark...more clothes for both kiddos, and that made up the rest of my $47. One of the best things is that all the clothes are tax-free at Goodwill, so that makes it even better. Had a great time this trip, can't wait for next month!