My little Coconut is 8 years old today! Here is her annual 20 question birthday interview, taken this morning before school.
A lot has changed since the last time I wrote a blog post here, which is why our home looks very different, and life also looks very different. I will share about all of that another time, though.
I just can’t believe my Coco is 8 now! She’s at school right now, and I sent her there with 2 dozen mini cupcakes for her class to celebrate her special day with her. We’ll be having cheese pizza for dinner, since that was her special birthday request.
She had a small birthday gathering/sleepover at our new apartment a couple weekends ago, so that her two neighbor friends who are moving far away could attend. It was Minecraft themed, because that’s what she’s into these days. We ordered pizza and I baked chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. Here are a couple of pics from that day:
As promised on Instagram, here is my step-by-step tutorial on how to make your very own DIY Swedish tomten! I made any army of these cute little guys for our Waldorf school’s Winter Wonderland Faire. Some went into the Angel Room and some of them were sold in little Christmas scenes on wood slices with needle-felted Christmas trees.
Ok, so first things first. You will need to gather your supplies!
1″ white faux fur trim (I think I got mine at Joann Fabric)
white embroidery floss
jewelry needlenose pliers
jewelry wire cutters
Ok, let’s do this! 🙂
Start by cutting your felt so that you have a triangle and a square. These are the dimensions I used:
2. Using your white embroidery floss, blanket stitch around the bottom edge of the triangle, which will be the hat. Do the same for the bottom long edge of the rectangle. Need help with blanket stitching? I have a blanket stitching tutorial here.
Then find the center of the hat and a little ways above the blanket stitching, embroider a simple star. I do this by making a lower case t shape, then making an “x” in the middle. Need help with embroidery? I have a simple embroidery tutorial here.
Then fold the hat in half long ways and stitch from the upper tip down to the blanket stitched edge. Now you have a hat! Stitch up the rectangular piece as well so you have a little tube for your Tomten. Slide the tube over your wooden peg so it is now wearing clothes. 😀
3. Cut a strip of white craft fur and remove any hairs which are no longer secured so they don’t shed. The length is up to you. You can see that I played with various lengths for my tomtens. Add a bit of hot glue to the lower part of your peg doll’s face and secure the fur beard.
4. Add a little bit of glue to the inside edges of your felt hat and secure to the gnome so that the top edge of the fur is hidden inside of the hat.
5. To make the nose, take your wooden bead and carefully cut it in half using your wire cutters. I like to do this so that the holes are lined up with the cutters.
Using the needle nose pliers (so you don’t burn yourself) hold one of the bead halves with the cut side exposed and add a tiny dab of hot glue, then secure the half bead so it is glued to the beard right under the hat. These make the cutest little noses! If you want bigger noses, use bigger beads. 🙂
That’s it! Easy, right? I was able to make a whole bunch of these in a couple of mornings. Each has its own little personality. I love them so much and I’m totally making more when I have time!
Enjoy! And if you make your own using this tutorial, be sure to post your results on Instagram and tag me @crystalsilvas. Merry Christmas, friends!
I thought I’d share with you guys a little of what I do, other than blogging here. 🙂 I am a very busy mama, like most if you I’m sure.
Over 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Chloe, I opened up an Etsy store called Chloe Michelle’s Closet, which I named after her. 🙂 I have been sewing since I was just 5 years old. I learned from my grandma. Both of my maternal grandparents and many of my other family members are tailors, so I grew up around sewing machines and I really took to it. I started out sewing clothes for my dolls and Barbies out of old clothes around the house. Sewing is one of my favorite creative outlets!
September through December is my busiest time of year, as you can imagine. I have been sewing up all kinds of things lately.
In addition to sewing for my Etsy shop, I’m also passionate about natural and organic living, and I lead a team of essential oil enthusiasts called The Joyful Oilers. I run another blog at thejoyfuloilers.com where I teach about essential oils, and I have a private Facebook group that goes into even greater depth about therapeutic grade essential oils and their uses. I try to update the group daily for our members. I also love teaching in person classes. I’m actually teaching one tonight in Poway. 🙂
I have always been very unhappy in situations where I was working for other people. I am a free spirit and I need something a bit more flexible. Plus it drives me crazy when people tell me what to do. Honestly, it’s probably just as much work (if not more) but I love that I can work at home in my pajamas while listening to my music and not have a boss breathing down my neck. I also love that I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission when I want to take a day off to volunteer at the kids’ school or do Chat n Craft or attend special events, or travel. Life is way too short to do something you hate, and I’m glad I figured that out in my twenties.
Anyway, I wanted to keep this very short as I have a class to prepare for before I pick the kids up at school. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little blog, and if you’re one of my Etsy customers or Young Living clients or team members, an extra HUGE thank you to you! I am so grateful for all of you! I try to support small businesses everywhere I can and it makes my heart so full when others do it for my family.
Earlier this morning I watched Chloe’s first grade class walk their Winter Spiral, a beloved Waldorf school tradition held as we approach the darkest time of the year.
The Eurythmy room at Sanderling Waldorf School was transformed with a double spiral made from evergreen boughs and interspersed with golden stars, crimson poinsettias, gleaming shells and crystals.
The children quietly enter the darkened room, a single candle burning in the center of the spiral and the sweet song of a lyre playing softly in the background. One at a time the children are invited to enter the spiral, unlit apple candle in hand, where they walk silently and reverently toward the center, going inward into the stillness where the light is. They light their candles, their angelic little faces aglow, and place them along the evergreen spiral as they exit, illuminating the path for their friends who will follow them.
By the end of the walk the darkness of the room is dispelled by soft, golden light and the children leave in quiet confidence, carrying their rekindled lights inside of them out into the dark and chaotic world.
The symbolism of this deeply moving tradition isn’t explained to the children, and it doesn’t need to be because the experience of it lives inside of them in a way that words are too clumsy to express anyway. ❤️
Winter spiral is beautiful and touching and I never leave there with dry eyes. ✨🕯✨
We had our Winter Wonderland Faire at school today and it was truly magical. The parents and faculty of Sanderling Waldorf School really know how to throw events!
When I arrived to help set up my booth (I was in charge of the Chat n Craft store) I took a peek into the Angel Room. It was STUNNING. Chat n Craft and Grade 1 did a beautiful job on the hand made gifts for that room. In case you’re not familiar with an Angel Room, it’s a room where kids enter (sans parents) with tokens to do their own gift “shopping.” This is to foster the spirit of giving. The room featured a beautiful angel, and 1st grade parent volunteers to accept tokens and wrap gifts for the children. Look at how beautiful it turned out!
We have so many talented and crafty parents at our school!
Here’s a video I took of the room during set up:
I didn’t get to explore the Winter Wonderland Faire because I was busy working the Chat n Craft store the whole time, but Keith, Jeffrey and Chloe really enjoyed themselves! There were Renaissance games, mining for gems, a Crystal Cave, Tea with the Snow Queen, Stories with Father Winter, a pocket person, a natural children’s craft room, a zipline, organic food and baked goods and so much more. It was so amazing. I love our school! For more info on our school and on Waldorf education in general, check out Sanderling’s website at http://sanderlingwaldorf.org/.
Jeffrey bean had his piano recital this afternoon at Forte Academy of the Arts in Vista. He played “Silver Bells” on piano.
I baked cookies this morning so we could have a small reception at our home afterward with my parents and my sister’s family. Chloe couldn’t wait to dig into those cookies!
Jeffrey did a great job on piano! His teacher, Marla Morrison, is amazing and so patient and loving. Jeffrey has been taking lessons with her for over 5 years now. We are so happy with Forte Academy of the Arts! Here is a video of his song, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy! 🙂
Jeffrey was really excited at school pick up this afternoon because his class harvested some organic goodies from their garden today! He filled his basket with spinach, kale, butter lettuce, speckled lettuce, arugula, fennel and calendula flowers. He let me sample some of the spicy arugula and it was divine! There’s nothing quite like fresh organic produce the same day it was picked. 🙂
Gardening is a big part of the 3rd grade curriculum in Waldorf schools around the world, and not necessarily for the reasons you might think. 3rd grade is a big year of transformation. It is during this stage of development when children start to view the world through a vastly different lens and begin to feel a deeper sense of being separate beings in the world. They are experiencing a very significant shift in consciousness where they are leaving behind the dreamy, magical realm of childhood and entering into a very different world, like Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education, refers to this period as the “9 year change.” When they leave that carefree space of taking everything at face value and questioning nothing, it can be very jarring for many kids. It can be a time of loneliness and insecurity, and there can be many thoughts of mortality and emerging fears that weren’t there before, like fear of the dark or monsters under the bed. It’s during this time when many 9 year olds will start to feel very alone in the world and begin to question things that were once taken for granted. There can be tears—LOTS of tears—and moodiness, but it’s different for every kid.
Going back to the Adam and Eve metaphor, the 9 year change marks a “fall from grace” and the third grade Waldorf curriculum is designed to meet the children right where they are. The curriculum gives the 9 year old (or in Jeffrey’s case, almost 9 year old) the gift of meeting the world that he has come to acknowledge with the tools he will need to live in his new home, the earth.
3rd graders learn about three essential, practical requirements for all of humankind—how we work with nature to provide ourselves with food, clothing, and shelter. So far Jeffrey and his classmates have created their garden which they care for each week, they’ve built a sukkah from bamboo, they’ve built their own one-legged wooden stools and they’ve done quite a bit of food preparation.
These kinds of activities are just what is in order and turns this year of turmoil into a rewarding experience. The 3rd grader goes forth with gusto, tools in hand—literally, to conquer the world. By the end of the year the third grader has the confidence in their abilities to navigate their way through life with a true sense of knowing that, if need be, they could make it on their own.
Hi, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones! We spent our week relaxing at home. We had a heat wave that week, and while it didn’t feel like “typical” fall weather, it was gorgeous. We enjoyed Thanksgiving morning relaxing at home on the front porch drinking coffee and looking at the ocean at a distance while the kids played.
On Thanksgiving afternoon we went to my parents’ house where we had a great big Thanksgiving meal with my parents and my sister’s family. The kids played with their cousins.
On Black Friday, my family did our traditional picking out of our Christmas tree at the local lot down the hill and we came home and decorated it.
On Saturday, we went and saw Pixar Coco (and cried our eyeballs out—it was SO good!)
In other news, our family has been wanting a puppy for quite a while, but Keith and I wondered if we were up to the task, as having new puppies are very much like having new people babies; we are in a busy season of life as it is! Chloe has been begging for a puppy since last Christmas. She has written letters (with Jeffrey’s help) to the nature fairies, to the tooth fairy and even to the Switch Witch on Halloween. When she got birthday money in October she said she was going to use it to buy a new puppy, and I told her she didn’t quite have enough to buy a new puppy. She had none of that though.
Flash forward to early November. Keith and I started getting the puppy fever in a really bad way. We kept texting and Facebook messaging each other cute puppy videos, which did not help. The kids kept asking and asking. We decided we’d surprise them for Christmas. And then Thanksgiving weekend came along, and Keith and I couldn’t wait. We had been perusing the animal shelter websites, trying to decide on the perfect dog for us. The kids really wanted a puppy, but Keith and I thought since we’d be rescuing a dog that a puppy was probably not going to happen.
On Sunday morning, while I was crafting tomtens for our upcoming Winter Wonderland Faire, Keith was calling shelters. We decided to tell the kids we were going to go to a shelter after breakfast, and they went ballistic! “Yay! We’re finally going to get a puppy!” they cheered. We didn’t have the heart to tell them that puppies at shelters are hard to come by, but we said nothing, because who are we to decide that? Keith said “Watch, we’re going to get there and they’re going to be like ‘we JUST got this puppy in 20 minutes ago!’ You know how these things usually go for the kids.” We laughed, but then I thought “hmmm.”
On the car ride to the shelter I said a silent prayer that if we were to have a dog that the entire process be blessed so that we would find our perfect pup and that we would be guided to be the best dog parents we could be. When we arrived at the San Diego County Animal Shelter in Carlsbad, we saw many sweet dogs, but none of them felt like “the one.”
Then while I was talking to a 2 year old Maltese boy, Keith and the kids were a few kennels down SWOONING over someone and Keith said “You HAVE to come see this CUTIE!” My heart skipped a beat and when I went and saw him, I knew. Even Keith knew. Unlike all of the other dogs, the photo and description on his kennel did not match what we were seeing so we thought he must be new here. Many other people started coming toward the aisle, so I thought “if we want a chance to meet this guy we better act NOW!”
I went to the front to inquire about this puppy and the receptionist told me, “He literally JUST became available for adoption right now. I just got him into the system and he’s not even been here 20 minutes.” My jaw dropped. “Would you like to see him?” she asked. I did a happy dance inside. “YES PLEASE!” Our family was escorted to a playing room while an attendant went to fetch the pup, and we could hear squeals from other families who had just found his kennel. One child exclaimed “Yo quiero este, yo quiero este!” Another couple said “If he’s available we’re taking him.” He was brought into our room where I sat on the floor and he bolted towards me full of unconditional love and puppy kisses. And I was in love. “Yup, we’re taking him home.” The attendant asked us “Does he have a name?” and Chloe said, “His name is Pip!”
We went out front to fill out our adoption paperwork while many people came and asked about the little black puppy in kennel #56. The shelter told us they put him at 2 months old and they thought maybe he was a terrier mix, maybe some Jack Russell, but who knows. She said “That will be $69. Oh—wait—nevermind. He falls into the category of ‘black Friday’ because he’s black, so he’s just $35!” Chloe insisted on buying him with her birthday money, and we let her. I guess she had enough for a new puppy after all!
The people at the shelter also said he couldn’t come home until he was neutered, and that would be Tuesday, so we spent an agonizing couple days waiting for him, watching a video I took of him over and over and over again. It was good though, because it gave us time to puppy proof the house and make sure we had everything we needed before he arrived.
The four of us went to pick him up on Tuesday and we found him in a sleepy state as he had just been neutered that day. We got him home and he snuggled and slept and gave us warm, puppy kisses. I got to work right away with training him and building a strong bond. Potty training has been going very, very well, and he is really good at “sit” and “fetch” already! The kids love him so much and are SO thrilled!
I have been training him using the modern puppy training techniques I have been watching on Zak George’s Dog Training rEvolution on YouTube. I love this method because it’s cruelty free and based on positive reinforcement rather than the old school punishment way. Pip is appreciating it too. 🙂
We took him to his very first vet appointment yesterday at Mohnacky Animal Hospitals of Vista. They didn’t think he was a terrier mix at all and said he was most likely a “chizer“, which is a mix between a miniature schnauzer and a chihuaha. When we googled pics of other chizers we definitely thought they nailed it, but of course we can’t know for sure being a rescue pup. He is doing really great at home. He is in good spirits and is healthy and happy. He is SO smart and is totally getting this potty training stuff. He is doing a little puppy biting, but he is easily redirected and we couldn’t be happier with him.
I mean, look at this face!!! He is such a sweet little pup!
This morning I volunteered to help Jeffrey’s 3rd grade class make organic buckwheat pancakes. In Waldorf schools across the globe, much of the 3rd grade curriculum is centered around life skills and the practical, like cooking, gardening, even construction.
They are currently reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is where they got the idea to make their own buckwheat pancakes, complete with molasses just as Almanzo Wilder ate them in the story! (We also had organic maple syrup for the kids who didn’t care to try molasses.)
This was the recipe we used, and we broke up into small groups to make them:
I worked with some of the girls in Jeffrey’s class.
Jeffrey got to work with his friend who has been in class with him since the Waldorf nursery kindergarten days.
The kids made SO many pancakes!
Yesterday, the 3rd graders got to make homemade ice cream from scratch, and their teacher let it get good and frozen overnight. The kids make ice cream once ever month and they use it to celebrate the birthdays in class. This month there are 5 birthdays to celebrate! These lucky kiddos got to enjoy not only their own homemade pancakes, but their homemade ice cream as well!
These lucky kiddos have no idea how good they have it! 🙂 Two days from now, they will also get to celebrate Sanderling Waldorf School’s annual pie day, which always takes place on the Friday before Thanksgiving break. The school will gather together at the start of 4th period and say their class blessings, sharing heartfelt gratitude with one another, and then we will all get to have delicious homemade pies. And then we will dismiss for Thanksgiving break! This has been a fantastic school week indeed!
We just got home from Chloe’s lantern walk for Martinmas, another beautiful Waldorf school tradition celebrating the light within. Her 1st grade teacher wrote “From France comes the legend of St. Martin, who, as a young man, passed under an archway in the city of Amiens and discovered a poor beggar huddled there. The man was nearly naked, shivering with cold, and had received no alms to assist him. On seeing him, the young Martin took his own cape from his shoulders, tore the garment in half and covered the poor man to warm him. The following night Martin had a dream in which he saw Christ wearing the same piece of his cape. The experience confirmed in him his devotion to all humankind regardless of their station in life.
This time of year, we are invited to enter into the Martinmas season both as the beggar and the giver. As we near the darkest time of year, we have an opportunity to see the parts of ourselves that are in need of healing and comforting, and we experience the light of our own higher selves as we meet those in need. We celebrate this symbolically by carrying lanterns out into the darkness of night and bringing the joy of our songs and light into the darkness of sky and soul.” ✨🕯✨