Friday, December 23, 2011

reindeer food and a giveaway winner

It is so warm and balmy here for the time of year. In fact it is hard to believe Christmas is so soon! Rebe is on holiday now and it is so wonderful to have her to ourselves and to have all of our jobs done and just free time ahead of us. To fill a few hours we thought we would go to the woods to find special reindeer food to leave for Santa tomorrow evening. We checked the fairy cave on the way, and what do you know there were 3 coins there. We left them in case they were someones wishes though.

We had a look at the waves from the cliff top, and stopped off at the beach,

playing a game of islands.

After that we got down to work gathering reindeer food. I didn't know anything about this, but luckily the kids did.

We needed to find a good moss tree

then find the thickest clumps of moss.

Reindeer like bracken too.

Then (quickly before mummy finds you) mix in some oats, honey and breakfast cereal.

Garnish with a carrot and leave where Santa is sure to find it and pass it on to the relevant reindeer.

We are going carol singing at our friends house later so we are going to have a quiet afternoon reading this and this and this and perhaps even watching a movie.

And now to our giveaway, thank you for all the comments it was lovely to get so many responses :-) We wrote out the numbers of the comments on pieces of paper and a little lady with a baby who came to visit kindly drew a number out of my Christmas stocking...

It is number 14....

that's you meli-mello. Please email me your address ( and I will post your copy of the Winter edition of JUNO to you :-)

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, I hope it is full of joy and wonder, magic and happiness
x x

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

We don't usually celebrate the solstice. I find that there is so much going on in the ways of celebrations at this time of year that trying to squeeze in another would just be too much.
However, today we were given a truly beautiful gift for the solstice and I want to share it with you.
On our return from collecting Rebe from school we met our postie who handed a silver parcel through the car window to us. The parcel was from a very sweet friend of mine that I met online. She is an incredible story writer and has written some really special stories for Rebe. I really hope that one day she will sit down and write a book of them all! Inside the parcel was this beautiful little treasure chest and inside the chest a long, soft white silk and a wonderful, hand written story.

Of course we had to read it straight away! The story is of a little boy who, on the night of the winter solstice, had to leave his home and all of his toys for a whole year. It is the story of how upset he was and how his cries were heard by a mermaid, a mermaid with the most beautiful long hair.

look at the concern on Rebe's face as I was telling her how upset the little boy was to have to leave his two favourite dolls

The mermaid cut off her hair and gave it to the little boy to play with. He was so happy and he played with the mermaids hair for a whole year until the winter solstice came around again. He returned home to his beloved toys again and although he still loved playing with the mermaid's hair 'he understood that the greatest gifts are the ones you can share.' So he found a little girl who didn't have any toys to play with and he gave her the mermaids gift. He explained that it was hers to play with for one whole year, but when the next winter solstice came, she should pass it on to someone else'

The story ends: 'Now it is in your hands. It is your privilege to keep it until the winter solstice comes again. It is your duty to then pass it on to someone else, along with this story, so they too can enjoy the mermaids gift.'

This is truly one of the most magical gifts we have ever received! I love the imagination, the thought, the simplicity, the sentiment and above all the adventure. Now winter solstice has a meaning for us, it has a legend: that of the mermaids gift and we are now part of this story too. Next year, we have a new celebration, a new tradition, a new duty, that of passing on the mermaid's hair to the next child...I wonder who it will be?

Are we not so lucky to have a friend like this?! Of course Rebe has been playing with the mermaid's hair all afternoon and we have read the story over and over.

After all the excitement I did managed to settle her down to some cake decorating this afternoon.

We have made a little Christmas tree cake for each child in her school class.
The children all give each other little cards here. Every child in the class gives each child in their class a card. Personally I just can't go in for this. I'm sure that for some people they do sit down with their kids and help them to think about and celebrate and remember each child in their class, write a little message of love and cheer, but I'm sure for other's it is just something you do. Everyone else does it so there is an obligation to give cards back, who after all would want their child to be left out?

Well I just can't do it, it just feels like a big waste of time, money and paper to me. After all Rebe has no idea who gave her which card or even why they have done it. So (as usual) we are doing our own thing. We do want Rebe to give to her class mates, to show them love and good cheer, but not in an empty (expensive gesture) so instead we bake. Last year we made a gingerbread house and this year we have made a little forest of Christmas trees.

She will take them in with her tomorrow on the last day of term. And then it's the Christmas holidays whoop whoop :-) I'm sure when we have all 3 kids at school the Christmas baking tradition will be crazy, but you never know perhaps it will be manageable and fun?

So I wish you a very happy solstice and I hope it was as full of love and giving and thoughtfulness as ours turned out to be.

Oh if you haven't done so remember to leave a comment here for a chance to win the winter edition of JUNO ~ with 2 pieces written by me in it :-)

how to clean a waldorf doll

I would like to share with you how we here Under Rainbows clean our Waldorf dolls.

Waldorf dolls are stuffed with sheep's wool. It is a gorgeous material to work with and I love the qualities it brings to the doll. It brings weight: it is heavier than cotton and also synthetic stuffing which lends the doll itself a good weight. Wool holds warmth: imagine all of the body heat from the little person holding it being absorbed into the doll. Imagine how lovely it is to wake up in the night looking for your special and they are warm to the touch, as if they were living themselves. I also love that the wool holds smell. Eventually, after lots of love, the natural smell of your child will be absorbed into the dolls wool and the doll will smell very familiar and comforting. I know that smell for me was so important as a child and I needed my special to smell just right for it to be of true comfort. So, that's some of the why behind using wool in making a Waldorf doll, the only thing is, they take a little more caring for than a wipe-clean plastic dolly does.
I really recommend that Waldorf dolls are spot cleaned for as long as possible. Spot cleaning means cleaning only those little bits that really need it rather than immersing the whole doll in water. This is because the wool stuffing can felt making the doll bumpy and hard.

To spot clean you need some warm water, an old, soft tooth brush and some mild soap. I like using baby soap or shampoo or a castel soap.

Wet the tooth brush and rub a tiny bit of soap onto it.
Very gently, in small circles, brush the soapy toothbrush over the spots (dirty bits).

Rinse the brush in clean warm (but not hot) water.

Brush over the skin in one direction. Try to follow the knit of the fabric. Repeat this until all of the soap has been rinsed off. Leave your doll to dry flat and naturally.

If the dolly is very dirty or has been saturated with...something ;-) then this is what we do to give them a full wash.

**If you are washing a doll with hair I recommend that you keep the hair dry if at all possible, tie it up in a pony tail or invent a dolly shower cap, tie a small plastic bag over her hair perhaps.**

Fill a basin with warm, not hot, water. Add a little soap; a very mild detergent or a pure soap or again baby shampoo or soap.

Immerse the doll in the water and very gently wash. You can slowly allow the water to seep through the wool, but try not to agitate it too much. For the worst bits you can use the old toothbrush trick mentioned above.
When the doll is clean refill the sink with warm clean water and repeat the process to rinse.

While the doll is still wet make sure that her skin is still in the right place. Smooth the little face out, position the arms and legs to their natural place.

Allow to dry naturally and flat until they are completely dry.

To re-blush the cheeks (when the doll is completely dry) I warm my fingers up by rubbing them together.

When they are good and warm I rub a red wax crayon over them. A little of the wax comes off onto my finger.

I rub my finger in a gentle circular motion over the apple of the cheek. I repeat this until the cheek is as red as I desire it. It is a good way of doing it as it builds up layers of red and is very forgiving.
And there they; are ready to be loved and played with again :-)

Oh one last little tip: If smell/ warmth is very important to your child stuff the clean doll up your top next to your skin and wear it for as long as you can manage. This way some of your special smell and warmth will be absorbed into the doll taking some of the strangeness of the clean and newly washed smell away. I remember my poor mum walking around for hours with one or other of our specials up her vest. She'd be like an oven baking cakes, we'd take it out, have a cuddle...nope not ready yet and shove it back up there for a while longer.

I hope this is of help, if you have any questions please do ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buddies~ Christmas Party

Today was the Buddies Home School Christmas Party, it was a great success, 'C' even informed me that it was his favourite Christmas Party :-)
We started off with the Christmas songs that we have been practising over the last few weeks. Then we played some party games: musical statues, musical bumps and hunt the thimble (well troll). After that we sent the kids to play for a bit while we prepared our feast for them. Everyone had brought something, we focused on savoury and healthy snacks with delicious home made soda breads, tortillas (Greg I know they weren't really tortillas but I can't remember what you called them ;-)) We had veggies to dip into cream cheese, lovely cheese biscuits and wee willie winkies (cocktail sausages for those of you not Scottish). It was gorgeous, and the kids truly feasted.
When everyone had finished we cleared the table and sang 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas' as we brought the gingerbread house to the table,

and then the kids feasted again!

The kids went off for some free play time in the playroom and we cleared the table for the parents to have a cup of tea and some gorgeous pies baked by Yvonne (thank you x)

We sang the clean up song and tidied up making a space for us to sit down in a circle to read our story. I read Stick Man for the children. Then we wondered if we sing loud enough would Santa hear us and come to visit? We tried and shouted out Jingle Bells at the tops of our voices, and what do you know he did hear us! We opened the door and he had left bags of presents. The gifts Santa brought have actually been a few weeks in the making. We wanted to give each family something special, but also practical and something that will give all the children a lot of play. So we decided to make a rainbow of play cloths for each family.Last evening Roisin and I bundled them up and popped them into their bags. It's a shame the colours didn't come out better in the picture, but they really looked very sweet. One evening last week we had got together after the kids were in bed and had a dye party.

We brought a bucket each and we dyed 6 muslin squares for each family: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Of course while we were waiting for the dye to take we had a wee bite to eat...
It was a really fun evening and it was so lovely today to see the children getting so much pleasure from such a simple gift :-)
A truly merry time was had by all!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from all the Buddies x