LifeWays Winter Newsletter

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Letter from Cynthia


Dear Friends,


Please join me in welcoming Amy as our new newsletter editor.  One of my favorite impressions of Amy was when she was cooking for the Wisconsin LifeWays training and I went to the snack room to discover a veritable feast for the eyes.  The food tasted good as well, but the presentation really stirred me.  It was a living testament to artful living.   Welcome, Amy, and thank you (and Rahima) for this engaging newsletter.


How apropos for LifeWays to have a newsletter based on the theme of relationships.  I enjoyed reading some of our writers' "tell it like it is without sugar-coating" approach to the events of our lives.  When I was a young parent I remember not wanting anyone to know the darker sides of my life.  What if they learned that Christmas Eve was often stressful when I so wanted it to be blissfully ideal?  Ever notice how family holiday photos are sweet and full of smiles? 


That said, I want to share with you the photo taken on the morning we left our son's home at the end of February, after welcoming our third delicious grandson into the family (our fourth grandchild).  In the first version, the five-year-old wanted to get back to organizing his stuffed animals.  The toddler was crying and wanting to get down.  Even baby Owen's little hand looked like it was coming up to say, "Time out!"  Less than two minutes later the more "picture perfect" family photo, above, was snapped.   Both of these photos are precious to me!   Accepting that the chaos and the beauty are both valid and truly reflective of how life works is comforting!


A fond memory arose for me in reading Amy's and Missy's very different stories regarding Santa Claus.  I will never forget when my nine-year-old son asked about Saint Nicholas when we were walking through Ashdown Forest [in England].  The question had a different tone to it from his inquiry in earlier years.  I was happy to share about the goodly saint, telling his life story now to a child who was ready for biography more than magic, and telling him how his father and I support Saint Nicholas' intentions for the children of the world to experience love.  My son understood then that while the physical Saint Nicholas did not come down a chimney into our living room, his spirit was honored in our home.  Like Amy, we had long before explained that the shopping mall Santas were only helpers, not the kind old saint.  And like Missy we have continued our tradition to this day (now with grandchildren).


Relationship, and family tradition, is a lot about being awake, don't you think?   Celebrating Easter brought this awareness to me as our sons grew from experiencing the treasures left by the Easter Hare, to being the ones who hid the treasures for younger children, to being included in the adult readings Michael and I did throughout the Easter weeks.  There was something bittersweet in moving from the magic of their early childhood, to observing their pleasure in "knowing the secrets" in middle childhood, to becoming aware of their readiness to hear the deeper mysteries in their budding youth and adulthood.


Many thanks to all who shared their lives with us in these articles.  In addition to Amy and Missy, Kahlil and Jane also shared images of how simple joys, simple living increase contentment.  Certainly J'Mae found that to be true in regard to finding balance between quality time with her children and time given over to her computer.  And Mary once again reminds us of what is truly essential in LifeWays' relationship-based approach to caring for children and families.  Also, thank you, Kahlil, for reminding us that Rudolf Steiner's basic exercises offer us a direct route to separating the essential from the non-essential, as well as finding reason and purpose in whatever it is that comes to meet us.


We are delighted to welcome baby Sophie.  Congratulations, Faith, on the two births, as finalizing your Master's dissertation surely was a birthing process in itself!  You have always been a "Master with Distinction" to us, and we are grateful that it has also been recognized in academia!


As always, we encourage everyone to share information about our upcoming trainings with friends all around.  Many thanks to all of our training directors (new and old) and teachers who bring this inspiring content to so many.  We want to take this opportunity to honor Susan Silverio, who has directed the LifeWays Northeast training from its inception.  Susan is retiring as a director as she and her husband set off on new adventures.  We wish you well, dear friend, and we hope our students will occasionally be blessed by your presence as a guest teacher in the years to come. 

Blessings to All,

Cynthia (with Owen Daniel) 

Introduction from our New Editor

Hello! I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself as the new Editor. 
My name is Amy Gerassimoff and I've been working with LifeWays for five years now. I have a bright and cheery sanguine five-year-old daughter, Lydia, who has attended LifeWays Milwaukee since she was six months old when I began working with them. I first found out about LifeWays through a good family friend of mine, Kathy Miller. She brought me to the LifeWays open house when my daughter was born because she knew I was already taking the same approach to parenting, even though I hadn't heard of LifeWays or Waldorf prior to that point.

That was the first time I met Cynthia and Mary. I was immediately drawn to their warmth, wisdom and to the overall calmness of the center. I felt like I had finally found our place! Shortly after, I was offered a job as cook and caregiver and began my journey. Since then I have continued to work with LifeWays as web designer, training promoter, and graphic designer. Sometimes I even cook for the Wisconsin Training students. I've also just started as an early education assistant for the Wonder Garden class at Prairie Hill Waldorf School. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and hearing yours as we go on this soul-seeking journey together!


Update on Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten

After meeting in rented space all fall, Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten--completely damaged in the September floods--was able to re-open in January in its renovated building. BWK is a WECAN member and LifeWays Representative Program. Best wishes, Seana and all!

To read more and see pictures, click here. 


Welcome Sophia Collins!

Sophia Collins was born on Jan. 13, 2014 to Faith and Tim Collins in Arvada, Colorado.  Baby Sophie arrived weighing 7 lbs. 7 oz.  Among the happy grandparents: Agaf and Rahima Dancy.

One week before Sophie's birth (!), Faith finished her thesis on "Pitching In: Toddlers helping with adult tasks" and just heard that she received a "Masters with Distinction" from Roehampton University in London. Way to go, Faith!




When I hear the word relationship I immediately think of all the quotes on love and happiness that get loosely thrown around daily. A false relationship is based of this, a real relationship will have that-it goes on and on. So what does make a relationship? What saves one? When is it broken? What can we do to mend them? I can't help feel these quotes or sayings we hear daily are misleading. Much like parenting, there is no one right way that works for us all. We have relationships with our children, our spouses, our friends, our family, our coworkers, and let us not forget with ourselves. Every type of love we have is unique. How do we nourish and maintain healthy bonds? What drives conflict? How do we navigate?


During the winter holidays we are presented with unique challenges. Stress and exhaustion run high as we do our best to grasp onto what we want to be meaningful memories in our lives.  As the holidays have come to a close we've asked about your unique situations and stories and how you handled some of the challenges faced. In this newsletter we will be exploring this topic and ways for finding peace within all of our relationships. 

"Focus more on who your child is
than on what your child does.
Remember, you are growing a person,
not fixing a problem." 
~ L.R. Knost

Emily and I are currently taking a class together about the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. The class, despite being held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights (yawn!), is interesting and offers insights into observing children and intentionally planning activities to meet their needs. The instructors are knowledgeable and engaging. Yet, I often..
 Read Full Article
Parent Development
By: Jane Danner Sustar, LifeWays Milwaukee

Back when my now 17-year-old, Gustav, was a baby, I started going to a mom's group at our church. We moms spanned a wide range of backgrounds: educational, economic, even religious. Our director picked a mothering book to read and we took turns presenting a chapter each week. We discussed the ideas presented and then gently widened the discussion. It was a wonderful circle of women, and though I loved them all dearly, I enjoyed leaving them all to that distinct group. They did not become my dear friends or movie companions. They were my mom's group.
Part of that experience was a yearly... Read Full Article
On Holiday Rituals and Embracing the New Year
By: Kahlil S. Apuzen-Ito, LifeWays graduate living in Hawaii and supporting parenting work in the Philippines 

"Life is like a flowing stream" is probably the best cliché or metaphor to describe our year in 2013.  We went through dramatic changes adjusting to our newborn baby, Nia, a new house, developing a community project, and having family and friends coming and going almost every other month.  Lastly, there was a natural catastrophe in the Philippines, devastating my mother's home town and many others, compelling friends, family and me to help fundraise for those affected by typhoon Haiyan in the busiest time of year-November and December.   As Christmas was approaching, I was not quite sure how...Read Full Article
Spirit, Magic, Tradition and Ritual
By: Missy Whaley, LifeWays Graduate living in Ohio

"Spirit, Magic, Tradition and Ritual"  bring harmony to our family at Christmas. Thankfully, my husband and I share our desire in this area.  We both share stories from our Christmases, along with the classics, and the stories bring  life to the season in our house. At the beginning of November we notice unexpected sparks throughout our house-St. Nicholas's elves checking up on us. Christmas Carols begin at Thanksgiving and are still often lingering days after Christmas.  Shortly after Thanksgiving we go to "Ruth's Christmas Tree Farm" to pick out our tree. Each year we try to remember whose turn it is to pick the tree.  This year the owner said, "That was the quickest pick yet."  Ravenjane, who's nine, picked this year.  Her big brothers, Emerson (29) and Seeder (21), took delight in assisting her and sharing their memories over the years, when it had been their turn. Next we place the tree in the pick-up and head down the winding country... Read Full Article
The Breakup
By: J'Mae Shemroske is a LifeWays student living in NY

I wish I could say I was surrounded by 4-year-olds, with our feet soaking in hot water and lavender aromas rising up around us, sitting  on felted wool cushions that I had made during my yearly millet cleanse.  In reality, though, it is 5 a.m. and I am...  
Passing the Torch
By: Amy Gerassimoff, LifeWays Milwaukee, Prairie Hill Waldorf School

I always find winter to be a time of great reflection. As the world slows down it gives us a moment to sit, and to think; to really find ourselves with a warm cup of tea and gentle snowfall; to embrace the previous year and all of its trials and successes. However, this always happens for me around January, after the holidays, which are a uniquely stressful time for me. As a single mother I always struggle with how to approach them, how to balance them, how to get it all done in time to actually ENJOY them... Read Full Article 

LifeWays Training Courses

~ Are you interested in a natural, holistic approach to child care? 
~ Are you looking for innovative, groundbreaking ideas on how to care for children-your own or others?
~ Do you want to create your own home-based preschool or a parent education program?
~ Are you seeking personal growth through artistic expression, music, handcrafting and meaningful practical skills?

  • A comprehensive understanding of the developing human being
  • A deepening experience of personal growth
  • Guidance in establishing a successful program
  • A sense of being grounded in practical, artistic, and nurturing skills
The LifeWays training is based on the human development research of Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf education) and contemporary researchers. It is designed to engage you as a whole person, not only intellectually. It is a very hands-on approach that will refresh and rejuvenate you. Put joy back into the center of your work and parenting! Graduate credits are available through Ashland University in Ohio. 

Portland, OR
Portland Training 
Register by March 1 and save $225!
Oregon LifeWays® Early Childhood Certification is located in Milwaukie, a nearby suburb of Portland.  Enjoy the vibrant culture, and varied restaurant cuisine in the evenings after your inspiring days at the training!
More Information
Maine Training THIS SUMMER! 
Register by May 11 and save $225!
The Northeast Training will start this year!  Classes will meet two weeks in July, 2014, for one weekend in October and April, and for two weeks in July 2015.  Bring everyone for a family vacation while you recharge at LifeWays. 
Southern CA Training in West LA 
Register by May 31 and save $225!
The Southern California training will be held at Westside Waldorf School starting in July 2014. Just minutes from the famous Santa Monica Pier and beaches, this is a beautiful setting to complement the intense learning  of our time together! 
More Information

More LifeWays Trainings:

CA Coast (SF Bay Area)
August 2014-June 2015

Vancouver, Canada
April 2014-March 2015
Only a few spaces left in NC!

Ashevile, North Carolina
March 2014-Nov 2014

Wisconsin Creative Arts Workshops
May 7-10 2014, with Suzanne Down


Social Arts: "Entering into a Partnership with Parents and Colleagues" 

June 18-21 2014, with Louise deForest


Domestic Arts: "Reclaiming the Art of Homemaking" 

August 9-10, 2014, with Mary O'Connell


One of the hallmarks of LifeWays is the recognition of the Living Arts (domestic, nurturing, creative and social arts) as central to the advancement of children's social, emotional and intellectual skills, as well as the health and well-being of the modern family.  In our fast-paced society, the Living Arts often are not valued or honored, and many of us struggle to find the time to incorporate them into our daily lives, or we simply haven't learned the skills to do so.


Our Living Arts Retreats are designed to inspire you - heart, hands and mind - as well as provide you with the skills you need to care for yourself and your family in fresh and nourishing ways.

All workshops will be held at LifeWays Early Childhood Center, 3224 N. Gordon Place, Milwaukee, WI 53212.  


For more information: Click on each workshop above, or contact Mary O'Connell at 

(414) 218-8558, 


Spiced Rice Pudding
By: Amy Gerassimoff

During these chilly days I'm always seeking warm, nourishing comfort foods. One of my favorite go- to recipes is spiced rice pudding. This rice pudding recipe was a favorite of ours every Monday at LifeWays Milwaukee. We then incorporate the grain, celestial aspect, and color of the day by eating in round bowls (moon) and serving on purple tablecloths. 


3 cups cooked brown rice (short grain is best)
4 cups milk
1 small Granny Smith apple (chopped into small squares)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg


Mix all ingredients in a kettle, heat on low-medium, stir and simmer until thickened and creamy.


Featured Artwork
By: Amber Hellewell

A little about Amber....she is a sunny and spirited homeschool mom of two, who loves learning new things, teaching preschoolers, crafting and painting, organizing, planning and sharing her love of Waldorf education with others. She is currently attending LifeWays training in Boulder and has enjoyed learning from Suzanne Down and her new LifeWays friends and colleagues.  

Join her at 
to learn more about her journey.

Amber writes: "When I was young I was always found painting and daydreaming in my bedroom. My closet was a cluttered mess of canvas, mason jars, brushes and paint-a messy, but cozy space where I would go to retreat from the world.  After becoming a mom, I let that talent fall by the wayside, falsely feeling that I was too busy! I have been so nourished this past year by picking up my brushes again and creating :) I find inspiration for my paintings in the seasons, the festivals and the day-to-day activities of my children.

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