LifeWays North America
 
Fall/Winter 2010 Newsletter
Volume 3, #2
In This Issue
Simplicity
Lantern Walk
Butter for Your Bread
Simple Grains
Simplicity
The Joys of Simple Toys
News from the Training Sites
LifeWays Calendar
Quick Links
 

 

Join Our List
LifeWays North America
is devoted to developing
healthy childcare,
parent-infant and parent-child programs as well as
training programs for
caregivers, parents and
parent educators.

These activities are
inspired by the works of Rudolf Steiner and the
experience of
Waldorf education, and
are supportd by
contemporary early child-
hood research as well as
the common sense and
wisdom of many
generations of parents.



Board of Directors 
Cynthia Aldinger
      Norman, OK
Mariane Alsop
      San Rafael, CA
Sarah Baldwin
      S. Thomaston, ME
Rahima Baldwin Dancy
      Boulder, CO
Patricia Lambert
      Davis, CA
Mary O'Connell
      Wauwatosa, WI
Susan Silverio
      Lincolnville, ME
Rosario Villasana-Ruiz
      San Francisco, CA
 




Inquiries, please contact:
Patricia Lambert,
lifewaysnorthamerica
@gmail.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LifeWays North America
is a 501 c3, non-profit
organization.

Greetings!

Welcome to our first online LifeWays newsletter.  Many thanks go out to all who contributed and to Susan Silverio for putting it all together for us.  For me, it was a bittersweet decision to decide to go electronic; yet we hope that you will appreciate the cost savings for the organization and the ease with which you can share it with others.  Please send it to all the parents in your care.  If you have names of people you want us to send a hard copy to, please send that information to us.

 

Also, a BIG THANK YOU to Marianne Alsop for editing and producing our first four LifeWays newsletters.  They were lovely and inspiring, and we appreciate the warmth and dedication she brought to them.  Marianne continues as a LifeWays Board member and Director of our LifeWays' California Coast training, as well as one of the Parent-Child teachers for the San Francisco Waldorf School, among several other hats that she wears. 

 

Please, tell us what you think of this edition.  We hope you enjoy the theme - Simplicity.

 

Simplicity

 

By Cynthia Aldinger, Director, LifeWays North America

 

Recently, driving back from Chicago to Oklahoma, I had a chance to watch the moon set and the sun rise, although at times they were hidden by clouds.  There was something so comforting about these celestial bodies, and I was filled with wonder and gratitude as we move toward that time of year with diminished daylight, knowing that even on the darkest days, the sun, moon and stars are always there (somewhere), even when not visible.

 

Lately, my inbox has been filled with various articles lamenting all the educational policies, technological wonders, limited play time and overwhelming schedules that seem to have conspired to squeeze childhood out of the natural progression of growing up.  One article tells us picture books are disappearing while another states that I-phones are the favorite toy of toddlers now.  If not careful, my heart can feel constricted and my mind laden with concern as I study the Western culture surrounding the children in our care.Cynthia and Child

 

Then I visit one of our LifeWays centers or perhaps a family home based on simplicity in living, and I hope that such havens, such oases of care, have an impact on the world that stretches beyond those families they directly serve.  In the midst of cultural "darkness", I am learning to trust that goodness, beauty and truth will (and do) prevail.  Our movement may be small; however, oak trees continue to grow from tiny acorns.                                                        read on

           Carrying a Light into the Darkness
lantern walk painting















The Lantern Walk is a Favorite Family

Festival 

 

 




Making Lanterns
A simple method for making a lantern is painting a jar with egg white, covering it with scraps of tissue paper, tying on twizzled yarn for a handle and glueing a tea light inside. 
At the Milwaukee LifeWays Center.....
 
Lantern Walk at Milwaukee LifeWays
Families gather around a campfire at dusk to hear a story, sing songs, and carry their lighted lanterns along the pathway.

Butter For Your Bread

By Rahima Baldwin Dancy 

 

                              Butter for Your BreadIt Couldn't Be Simpler!

I'd heard about making butter with the children, but I couldn't believe it could really be that simple.  But it really does work, and it's wonderful addition to the bread we bake together!

Have a number of small, sturdy jars with lids-small canning/jelly jars or baby food jars work well.

Put some organic heavy whipping cream in each one, and give to the older children to shake.

That's all you do!  First it turns into whipped cream. (That I expected.)  But how does the whip cream magically solidify into butter and whey when it sticks to the sides of the jar and isn't really even moving around?   But it does, and your butter is ready to spread.

Try it!                              

Simple Grains for Hot Lunches

by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

 

At Rainbow Bridge we find it much easier to make a hot lunch for the children than to open a dozen different lunch boxes and deal with all that entails.  Part of our success is keeping it simple: I had never used a rice cooker before, but they're only $30 from Target and quite wonderful. They cook any grain, turn off without burning, and keep the grain warm, all without needing your attention (we use between twice and three times as much water as grain, depending on how soft or sticky we want it to be).

We do a different grain each day, including brown rice, barley, millet and quinoa-plus a quarter cup of red lentils each time.  Right before lunch we sauté and steam some organic veggies that the children have helped chop during free play and then mix it all together at the end, along with something like organic soup, salad dressing, or Dr. Bronner's and Mrs. Dash (a marriage made in heaven).  The children all eat it - peer pressure goes a long way, and that's all there is to eat!  And it's yummy. 

Some of our favorites include: "Spaghetti Rice" (or Barley) with onions, zucchini, canned organic tomatoes, oregano etc, topped with parmesan; "Sweet Rice" with sautéed apples and cinnamon, plus a dash of agave when we mix it with the rice; and "Mashed Potato Millet" (made 3:1 water to millet so that it's stickier), with sweet potato, onions, and soy sauce.

Simple Play

 

By Jane Danner-Sustar, Caregiver at Milwaukee LifeWays Center


My favorite memories of when I was still a young new mother are those of sitting in my sister's kitchen drinking coffee. She had an amazing backyard. It was all fenced in with a chain link fence. There was a huge black walnut tree at the side of the house which prevented anything but grass, dandelions, and Creeping Charlie to grow in the rest of the yard. In the far back corner were three beech trees. Nestled in those beeches was the best thing a mother could own...a platform. A two tiered platform.


Back in those days, Prairie Hill Waldorf School had a service auction each year as a community builder as well as a moneymaker. People offered their services to each other - cookie baking, singing, poetry reading, you name it - as auction items. (Ruth Zinnecker's rolls were always a hot item, commanding a handsome price for that service.) One year, my sister bid on and won "three men and a chain saw." After much thought and planning, she decided on a play house. And then after more thought and planning she came up with a very simple design. A two tiered platform which sort of wrapped itself around the beech trees. It was always shady and cool in the hot sun, but also provided shelter from the wind on the cool days as well. There was ample opportunity for transformation in the simplicity of its design. By stringing yarn through the branches, those platforms became the deck of a ship or a stage or a house or a school or a space ship, anything that was needed. Her two girls and my three children would play for hours. Barb and I would sit at the picture window of her kitchen, unobserved observers, and watch the dramas unfold. Usually we were only needed for snack and lunch. Occasionally, we would have to intervene when something became dangerous, but not often. We got a lot of the world's problems solved in those days.      read on

Simplicity

By Ashley Mueller, Caregiver at Milwaukee LifeWays Center

 

We live in a society where everyone wants more, more, more, of everything. Being surrounded by this 'over the top' frame of mind, it without a doubt trickles down to those most impressionable of all, children. Unquestionably, this mentality is not appropriate for a child. In addition, it will in the long run have an immense effect on and in turn dictate their views and actions in the future. What children need most is not more of those things lacking content, but rather simplified, purposeful outlets that allow them to be children. LifeWays provides a sanctuary that preserves and promotes the simplicity of early childhood.

What I have learned most though the Waldorf philosophy and the work of LifeWays is the key concept of less is more. By providing children with a simple environment both aesthetically, and in quantity of materials, children's play can expand. Children do not need bright walls, endless toys, and media sources to enjoy play. In environments such as these, children are bombarded with sensory overload. Elaborate, manufactured toys can take away from a child's ability to create and pretend. When children are presented materials such as cloths and wicker baskets, they have the opportunity to create their world of play around them vs. plastic toys that have a predisposed use by a child. Simple items allow children to explore the materials, interpret and play with them in a way that is meaningful to them as individuals.   read on 


THE JOYS OF SIMPLE TOYS

 By Sarah Baldwin 

  

As a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, one of my favorite "parent evenings" to offer was on the subject of toys and play. Over the years, I don't think there was a single parent

who walked away from such a meeting without a new consciousness about choosing healthy playthings for his or her children.

waldorf baby doll

 

At the outset of our meeting, I explained how a young child learns about the world through all her senses. Unlike adults, a baby or toddler does not rely solely on her sense of sight, and make quick judgments about things based on a visual perception. 

When it comes to toys, a baby will grasp a toy, feel it, smell it and put it in her mouth. Did you know that along with the fingertips, ours lips are full of nerve-endings and one of the most sensitive parts of our body?

 

Experiencing Toys Blindfolded

 

Well, I didn't really blindfold them, but I asked parents to close their eyes and not to peek. Then I would hand each parent a different toy.                                                                                                                     read on  

BellaLuna Banner

 

 

 

 

 
 
News from the LifeWays Early Childhood Training Sites 

 

Boulder LifeWays Training 

Boulder Festival Group

Each LifeWays group creates a Family Festival in the course of each training session.

 

 

Next session is January 29 - February 5. We are accepting new students for this session!

 

 

During this second year of the Boulder-based training established by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, we are pleased to announce that Suzanne Down has stepped in to serve as director.

  

"There are currently 14 people doing the training with more joining us in January.  We have an amazing group of faculty living in the area, including Nancy Blanning who teaches the development of movement; Dr. Incao and Barbara Cavenaugh who teach home health care; Glenda Monasch, eurythmy, and many more.  This constellation of extraordinary leaders in their fields makes the training in Boulder a joy to direct, and of course, to teach as well.  I will also share that we have a beloved angel on our faculty...Carma Feigl teaches singing and lyre!  

 

"Our 2nd year group of students are enthusiastic and energetic, with their feet on the ground.  They will make things happen for the young child in a positive and heartfelt way.  I watched the transformation of their goals, lives, and possibilities start to happen immediately in the first session last June.  I can only wonder what powerful work will arise as we go through the entire incredible curriculum!  We have opened up our doll making and home health sessions to the public.  This is our gift to the community at large, and I hope this invitation will grow in sessions to come."

 

Suzanne Down ~

contact her at

 

LifeWays Training in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

domestic arts in the training

Practicing the Living Arts in Community 

 

There are still openings for students to join us!

Call Mary O'Connell at (414) 218-8558 or email at lifewayschildcare@gmail.com

 

 

LifeWays Training in Maine 

 

Nancy Mellon leads Storytelling in Maine
Nancy Mellon, author of Storytelling with Children, led a weekend on Storytelling this October.

 

LifeWays students created a village of wool puppets with Susan Silverio.

LifeWays students created a village of wool puppets with Susan Silverio.

 

Our next session March 18-20 will be Nourishing and Nurturing: Care of the Child and Care of the Caregiver, with Elizabeth Sustick, anthroposophical nurse. There are still openings for new students for this session.

Contact Susan Silverio at spindlewoodmaine@gmail.com.

 

Coming Soon! LifeWays Training in Ohio!

 

We are now enrolling for the first session, February 20-26 in Columbus with Susan Silverio and Rachel Ross, curative eurythmist. Contact Susan at spindlewoodmaine@gmail.com 

LifeWays Training at Large!

 Calendar Listings from Cynthia

 

You can see from the training reports that the LifeWays Early Child hood trainings continue to be joyful and healthy.  Currently four trainings are in session - Maine, Boulder, California Coast and Wisconsin.  We are hoping to launch one in Ohio in February pending adequate enrollment, and we are offering a workshop in Austin, Texas in early November to get a sense for possibilities there in the coming year.  We are also in conversation with Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento to see when we might start there again.  Other locations are in the hopper, and we will let you know when they feel a bit more solid.

 

If you have friends or colleagues near any of the following locations, please let them know of these activities or trainings they might want to check out:

 

November 9-12, 2010, Kimberton, PA;  Cynthia will be working with the Kimberton Waldorf School regarding the further development of their thriving early childhood department.

 

November 19-20, 2010, Austin, TX; Honoring Childhood, A LifeWays Early Childhood Workshop with Cynthia and local early childhood teachers.  Contact Laura Olsen at 512-569-5880 or laura@blossomfamilycenter.org
 


February 3-5, 2011, Boulder, Colorado; The Magic and Mystery of Puppetry, Storytelling, Nursery Rhymes and the Development of Speech in Early Childhood with Suzanne Down.  Contact Suzanne Down, 303-485-9742,   

suzanne@junipertreepuppets.com

 

February 13-20, 2011, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Part Two of a four-part LifeWays training course.  Contact Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558, lifewayschildcare@gmail.com.

 

February 20-26, 2011, Columbus, Ohio; Part One of four-part LifeWays training course.  Contact Susan Silverio, 207-763-4652, spindlewoodmaine@gmail.com

 

March 5, 2011, Mill Valley, California; LOVE Approach to Discipline with Cynthia Aldinger.  Contact Marianne Alsop, 415-453-9122, alsop@sbcglobal.net.

 

March 11-20, 2011, Hawaii Islands; LifeWays workshops and training exploration with Cynthia and colleagues Cyndee Fehring and Kim Raymond. 

 

April 16-17, 2011, San Diego, CA; LifeWays workshop with Cynthia; Contact Bianca at WISC, 760-722-8487

 

May 1-8, 2011, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Part Three of a four-part LifeWays training course.  Contact Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558,  lifewayschildcare@gmail.com

 

May 2-4, 2011, Milwaukee, WisconsinThe Magic and Mystery of Puppetry, Storytelling, Nursery Rhymes and the Development of Speech in Early Childhood with Suzanne Down.  Contact Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558,

lifewayschildcare@gmail.com 

Also in Milwaukee March 4-6, 2011

Rethinking Childhood: Parenting and Educating Children in a Time of Global Transformation

Conference at Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, WI. Our world has been changing rapidly. How can we best prepare children for an unknown future? Sharifa Oppenheimer, author Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, and Joan Almon, Executive Director of the Alliance for Childhood, will share practical information and motivational wisdom to help us in our lives and work with children of all ages. Breakout sessions will engage participants in conversation and artistic and creative activities to help deepen and integrate new ways of thinking about and being with children.

  

NEW!   LifeWays DVD and CDs

  

Our all new 15-minute DVD that brings the heart and soul of LifeWays to life!  Beautiful color photos and a soothing, articulate narration by Sarah Baldwin, this DVD is the perfect way to introduce the LifeWays principles and practices to prospective parents in your childcare program.  For groups thinking of opening a center based on LifeWays principles, the DVD offers a wonderful introduction.  And if you are considering the LifeWays training, this DVD can help paint a living picture of the things you'll learn about.

 

   The DVD is available for public viewing in two parts on YouTube.  Here are the links:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVIn6bSQkxU

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0ZirZsrOeE&feature=related

 

          If you would like to own your own copy of the DVD,

          it is available for $7 plus $4 S/H at www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org.

 

Audio CDs of Cynthia Aldinger's Lectures

Life as the Curriculum for Young Children, $12.50 plus S/H

Nurturing Our Children and Ourselves, $12.50 plus S/H

The L.O.V.E. Approach to Child Guidance, $12.50 plus S/H

 

LifeWays Forms CD

A useful collection of forms and documents to use in your childcare business, either in your home or in a center, $15 plus S/H

 

All of the above products are available in our LifeWays Store at www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org.

 

Home Away from Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families
Now Available in Print!
 

Looking for inspiration in your work or life with children? 

 

 

Here is what one reviewer wrote about Home Away From Home:

 

 

 

"It is with heartfelt joy that we offer Home Away from Home to you, a book we've been hoping would be written for many years. The authors have been guiding lights in LifeWays early childcare - offering insight, training and leadership-by-example (the very best kind!) for many years. Now that they have published Home Away from Home, the heart of what they teach and know is now available to everyone who wants it, even if they can't get to a seminar. This is simply the most complete, intimate alive portrait of Steiner-inspired child care that is available.

 

Whether you are a childcare provider or a parent of young children, there is a wealth of information, inspiration, support, and instruction between its covers. Everyone who works and cares for young children will find that it is a well of resources that will never run dry no matter how often you turn to it.

 

You'll find wonderful child development information, beautiful examples of others who are offering warm and loving care in their homes, including an abundance of black and white photos that show how to create these environments for young children and what daily life looks like within them. You'll also find discussion about licensing, parent relationships, and the business of caring for the children of others on a daily basis.

Altogether, this is one of the most potent books ever written. We believe it will change the face of childcare everywhere it is read." 

                                                                                 Bob and Nancy's Bookstore
 

Available at www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org for $18.95 plus $4 Shipping.

Wholesale pricing is available for orders of 5 books or more.

Contact lifewayschildcare@gmail.com for details.

        
  Our Community Online

 

  Faith Baldwin now has a blog "Joyful Toddlers"!

 

  She is the founder of Rainbow Bridge in Boulder with her mother Rahima.

 

  Faith's blog link is:  http://joyfultoddlers.blogspot.com where you may find   

  her review of Kim John Payne's book Simplicity Parenting.

 

  "I hope people soon discover what a treasured resource you provide, Faith."

                                                                                             Cynthia Aldinger 

 

  Also ~ 

  Waldorf from Womb to Three is a yahoo group created for parents,   

  teachers and child care providers who are working with the very youngest children (ages

  birth to four). It is for those interested in the healing art of Waldorf education and other

  healing methods such RIE/Pikler and attachment theory. This group provides a forum for 

  questions, suggestions, inspiration, challenges, support and sharing.

                     

   Contact Kimberly Lewis at kimberley.lewis@gmail.com to join!

 

   

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
 

 ~a Shaker dance tune from Maine where Shakers still live at Sabbathday Lake. 

       

 
.
 

A Simple Gift

 

By Rosario Villasana-Ruiz

 

As the temperature drops, the wind whips around us and the days grow shorter we feel the approach of the winter holidays.  Many people celebrate in one manner or another depending on their traditions or new choices.   

a simple toy - a cardboard box!
"only__more shopping days....." Does it make you want to hide?

                                                                

As a parent I remember being surprised when my children found much more of interest in the packaging and the boxes their toys came in than in the toys themselves.   I have to admit, I was also disappointed as I thought of the money I'd spent, and bills yet to come in the mail,  I guess I thought I'd get a bigger bang for my dollar!  Of course, it makes perfect sense that young children are more interested in the boxes... what endless possibilities...what an opportunity to creatively explore spaces, filling, dumping, sitting on, chewing, hiding in, etc.  The toys inevitably entertained them for very short periods of time and were soon collecting dust on the shelf.  Sort of like that bicycle or exercise machine. 

 

In my capacity working with parents and training Early Childhood Education students,  I hear many such stories and am often asked the question, "What should I get my child for Christmas"  Parents want to know what is developmentally appropriate, how they can help their children get ahead and provide ways for children to enjoy themselves.  Parents are willing to use often limited funds to buy something they think will be of help to their children and that will keep them busy. 

 

I often caution them about the over commercialization of the Christmas holidays.  One doesn't need to stretch themselves so far that stress is the end result.  Children most need calm, loving parents who can provide attention and care.  Have you ever gotten so far in debt that you snap at your children?  The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's are often the most stressful of the year.  Perhaps there is a message here.  Granted it isn't easy to resist all the tempting advertising and momentum to splurge on gifts...or the guilt one might feel when not out buying and getting things.  Perhaps it is time to begin new traditions, or return to cherished traditions to celebrate the season.

 

How often have you seen parents with their children at major shopping malls or stores way past a healthy bedtime?  How happy do the children look?   I have often seen near abuse at the mall as the child has a tantrum, gets too tired, hungry or bored.  Do yourself and your child a favor, spare them the long hours of shopping.  Shopping malls are NOT child friendly.  Children can not tolerate extended periods confined to one space, having to "behave", be quiet, or stop running. The overstimulation of visual distractions, noise and bright lights is guaranteed to cause a melt down.   This is a set-up for frustration and conflict for both parent and child.

 

"The manufactured, perfectly shaped, realistically finished toy incorporates in its very perfection a limitation to the child's fantasy and imagination.  The perfectly shaped, realistically finished airplane will never be anything else to him but an airplane.  He must submit to that.  It limits his freedom in the projection of himself...Children become very quickly bored with mechanical toys" writes Sheila Neilsen in an article in the Peridot Journal. 

 

This addresses the notion that often what children need is NOT what we are being sold.  When one observes children we see their sheer delight in the simple things...running, jumping, playing ball with a loving adult, working in the garden, in other words, connection with loved ones brings joy to the child.  This is also often the hardest gift to give...our time

and absolute attention. 

 

Remember also, cherished toys that are loved for years are often the ones MADE for a child.  Children will often play, sleep and even travel with a homemade toy because it is specially and lovingly made for them.

 

 As Bruno Bettlheim writes in his book A Good Enough Parent "From a child's play, we can gain understanding of how he sees and construes the world-what he would like it to be, what his concerns are, what problems are besetting him.  Through his play, he expresses what he would be hard pressed to put into words.  No child plays spontaneously just to while away the time, although he and the adults observing him may think so.  Even when he engages in play partly to fill empty moments, what he chooses to play is motivated by inner processes, desires, problems anxieties.  What is going on in the child's mind determines his play activities: play is his secret language, which we must respect even if we do not understand it."  Now, what kind of toy can honor this most serious and important aspect of play?  Please keep this in mind as you do your Christmas gift preparation or shopping.  It is equally important to take care of you; a parent and caregiver who can really enjoy the season is a gift to the family.  Perhaps this is why the "old fashioned" ideas are gaining such popularity again, home cooking, playing games, visiting friends and family, and making arts and crafts.  I know that I'll be able to take time off from work and I'm looking forward to catching up with friends I don't get to see very much, work in the garden and around the house, read and enjoy being with my family without the pressure of checking our various schedules. 

 

This is the greatest gift of all. 

    

 


Thank you for being with us here in our first online newsletter. We hope to stay in closer touch with you as well as the trees on our land!

May you go into winter with grace and joy!

Susan Silverio
LifeWays North America

 

  And to close.....a Bedtime Story .......

 

Dear Lifeways friends,

 

This story inspired one mom/teacher to start knitting slippers for homeless shelters as Christmas presents.  She attaches this story to the slippers with a red ribbons.  I wet felted little story size slippers to use as a prop when telling this tale.  I hope you tell it and enjoy telling it!

 

with best wishes,

Suzanne Down

 

The Christmas Slippers 

 

This story is my adaptation of an old Russian tale.  The main character is an old woman, a grandmother, or in Russian, a Babushka.   I will call her Grandma Valyusha. 

 

Grandma Valyusha lived all alone in a tiny cottage along the main street of her village.  She was known far and wide to be the best seamstress in the village.  Now she was getting old, and her eyes were tired from so much sewing!  Once, something very special happened to her, and here is that story... 

 

It happened on Christmas Eve.  Grandma Valyusha was sitting by the fire thinking of the first Christmas so long ago, and the gifts of the shepherds and kings.  'What would I have brought the Christ Child,' she wondered?  And all at once she jumped up, got her needle and thread, scissors and strong golden wool felt, and set to work.  She cut carefully and sewed with her finest stitches.  She was making tiny warm slippers, the kind she would have brought as a gift to the Christ Child himself.  She stitched and stitched until the most perfect little slippers were finished.    

 

Grandma Valyusha admired them and smiled.  They were blue like the heavens, and she put a golden star on each one to remind her of the star that the three kings followed to find the newborn child in the stable long ago. 'Yes,' she said, 'these would have been perfect to warm the Christ Child's little feet.'  Then her head nodded and she soon fell asleep in her chair.  As she slept, she had a dream.  A beautiful golden child appeared and said, 'Dear kind Grandma Valyusha, I will visit you this night.' 

 

Grandma Valyusha woke up knowing it had been the Christ Child.  Oh how happy she was.  He was coming to visit her on this Christmas Eve night!  So she set to work.  She swept the floors, and tidied the house.  She chopped up beets and cabbage to make her best tasting borscht soup.  When all was ready, she then put the tiny blue slippers with the golden stars on the table for the Christ Child's gift.  Imagine, she would still be able to give him her gift!

 

As she waited, Grandma Valyusha looked out the window, and then she opened the door to look down the street.  Brrrr, it was a cold night!  As she looked down the street, she noticed an old grandfather sweeping the snow from the lane.  His cheeks and nose were red from the cold.

 

'Old Grandfather,' she called out, 'come warm yourself with some soup, and sit for a little by my fire.' 

 

The old grandfather was so grateful, and the good soup warmed him and gave him energy to finish his job before going home to his family for Christmas Eve. 

 

After he had gone, Grandmother Valyusha looked in the soup pot.  Oh yes, there was plenty left for the Christ Child when he came!

 

But still, no Christ Child was to be seen down the street.  She was too excited, and kept looking up and down the street for him.  Instead she saw a young woman dressed in rags, and she was carrying something.  As she got closer Grandma Valyusha saw it was a baby!  The baby was wrapped in a tattered blanket and both looked very cold. 

 

'Come in, come in dear friend, sit by my fire and warm yourself,' welcomed Grandma Valyusha.  The young woman gratefully sat by the fire with her baby.  Grandma brought her a big bowl of borscht soup, and warm milk for the baby.  The mother ate it up so fast, Grandma brought her a second big bowl. 

 

Grandma Valyusha held the baby and gave him some warm milk.  As she had a better look at the baby she saw that he had no shoes on!  His little feet were red from the cold.

'Oh the poor child,' thought grandma to herself.  She looked over at the warm slippers she had made for the Christ Child... 'But those are for Him,' she quietly thought. But as she looked at the baby in her arms, she knew what she must do. 

 

'Look here,' Grandma Valyusha said to the mother, 'I have these warm slippers that might just fit your baby.'  She slipped them on the baby's feet.  How perfectly they fit.  The baby stretched and moved his legs as if to look at the fine blue slippers with the gold stars.   

The mother's eyes filled with tears of joy.  'You have been so kind to us when no one else would.  Thank you dear grandmother.'  Then she left with new strength.  What a beautiful clear night it was. 

 

Grandmother Valyusha was getting tired, and it was very late.  She thought, 'How silly I was to think the Christ Child would visit me, a lonely old woman.'  And she turned out the lights and went to bed. 

 

As she slept that Christmas Eve, she had another dream.  A golden child came to her and said, 'You waited for me to come to you and I did.    I was the old man sweeping the snow.  I was the mother and baby.  And you helped all of them.  By showing kindness to them, you show kindness to me.  Thank you dear kind grandmother....'  

 

And in the dream Grandmother Valyusha saw on the Golden Child's feet, blue slippers with golden stars.

 

The End.................Sweet dreams!