Balclutha

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The flag the 7th grade made to fly on the Balclutha #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #12yearold #seventhgrade #learning #adventure #ageofsail #classof2020

Here are some photos from the trip Lucas’s seventh-grade class took earlier this month to the Balclutha, an 1886 tall ship moored in San Francisco Harbor. Many thanks Ms. B for making this possible and to Frau S. for taking photos to share with us landlubbers back home. The kids were on the ship for an afternoon and a night, about 18 hours. Some kids had to work in the galley. Some had to swab the deck. They all had to stand watch during the night. At dusk they suspended their class teacher up in the rigging and extorted privileges from her before they’d bring her down. Lucas came back very very tired. The last shot is the flag some of the kids painted, which flew while they were aboard.

 

“Letter from Home” Age of Sail

BALCLUTHA at Hyde St. Pier

What an opportunity! My son is on a seventh-grade trip to the Balclutha, a tall ship moored in San Francisco Harbor that was built in 1886. They will be there about 18 hours, during which they will work on the ship. We parents were asked to write a letter to our child, as if we were living in the Age of Sail (or in the early Renaissance, which is what they really are studying right now), and the child had been gone a while at sea. Here is my letter.

Star of Alaska (BALCLUTHA) under sail

Dearest Son,

It has been eight long months since we received your last letter. We take it out of our special items box every Sunday evening to read it again. We all talk about you and wonder what you are doing at sea, and we never fail to pray for your safety and well-being, morning and night.

At home, life goes on just how you probably remember it. Father wakes very early each morning to do all the heavy lifting around here. I wake in the dark and make us all a hearty breakfast. We are blessed with a full larder, thanks to Father’s hard work and sound investments. I have been enjoying being creative in the kitchen. The morning air is full of autumn’s chill now, but the days are still bright and warm. It looks to be a good harvest this year. All the farmers hereabouts go to and fro with a smile on their faces. In two weeks we will go to the harvest festival.

Your brother is the one who changes quickly. You might not recognize him now. He has grown so tall. His teacher at school tells us that he is learning his letters and plays well with the other children. How fortunate we are to be able to send our children to school! Sometimes I wonder, Son, whether you miss your carefree days at the schoolyard, learning sums and verses, and playing games with your friends. Now that you’ve gone to sea, I expect your days are full of labor and adventure.

I met a woman at the market last week, who told me that her husband, a Captain in the Navy, says that life aboard a ship is terribly frightful at times, with storms and weather beating the sailors down, day in and day out. But I wonder if there might also be times of boredom—if, perhaps, you sometimes find yourselves adrift in calm, glassy seas without a wind to blow you onward. I’m sure that able-bodied Seamen such as you and your mates still have plenty to do during such times. I beseech you, My Son, please do keep your behavior Godly and seemly, and I pray that you do not fall prey to temptations you might encounter when you anchor off the coast of some island town, where there might be vicious scoundrels and worse.

Forgive me, Son. I know you are a man now, making your way in the world using your good mind and strong body. I know you will succeed and make Father and me proud. I wait eagerly for your next letter. Please write to us to tell us that you are safe and sound. Remember that we pray to God for your safe return to us, and that, while you are away, you meet with fair winds and favorable seas.

Blessings upon you.

Sincerely,

Your Mother

 

Michaelmas 2014

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Happy Michaelmas! This was Asher’s first year to experience our school’s amazing Michaelmas festival, which took place last Friday. It’s an enormous pageant, with second through twelfth grades participating. We were lucky this year because it was a beautiful, cool day instead of a scorcher.

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The seventh graders did their part by reciting a portion of the verse. But they weren’t center-stage, and frankly, that suited my son Lucas just fine. ;-)

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Asher’s second-grade class dressed in St. George tunics and carried their wooden swords, which they have spent the last several weeks sanding and polishing. All this time, they’ve been learning their part in this festival, and also learning a long and wondrous Michaelmas play too, which was preformed on Friday evening for parents and grandparents.

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My fearless second grader helped to subdue the dragon!  #autumn #michaelmas #stmichael #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #festivals

As I have said before, these sweet children are breathtakingly lovely to me. I take lots of photos in the hopes of sharing them with other parents who didn’t bring their cameras.

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The dragon was MIGHTY and FEARSOME and WONDERFUL! It was full of sixth graders, who created it along with their intrepid parents.

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Michaelmas at school #sacramentowaldorfschool  #waldorf #festivals #holiday #community #dragon

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The senior class and the second graders joined their indubitable, indefatigable prowess together to defeat the foe.

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Inspired by Archangel Michael, innocence, courage, justice, and wisdom prevailed, making a shining example for all the assembled students, teachers, parents, grandparents, and community.

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(I use this terrific photo with my friend Melissa’s permission. I’m so glad she caught them all together like this!)

Second-grade Michaelmas play #autumn #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #secondgrade #michaelmas

Later that same night—as if the morning festival weren’t precious enough—we were treated to an intimate second-grade play, the story of George and the Dragon. The children memorized many, many verses to recite and several songs. Asher was thrilled to be a knight who attempted to rid the land of the dragon but failed. He loved it because he got to actually wave his sword around. George came along afterward and succeeded against the (so-adorable) manxome beast (of whom I never got a good photo, darn it).

St. George,  Michael,  and the princess #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #secondgrade #michaelmas #stmichael

We don’t know this class or their parents as well as our older son’s class, but jeepers they are cute!

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The boys were especially happy after the performance because they got to run (WILDLY) and then take their swords home.

So, a lovely community Michaelmas festival was had by all, I believe.

I am deeply grateful that we get to experience these festivals as a part of this Sacramento Waldorf School community. That they are similar year to year makes them comforting. That they are ever new because of new families, new children, and new art makes them an opportunity for renewal, for buckling on our metaphorical swords and remembering that there are dragons to slay, and so much worthwhile, honorable work on this beautiful earth that needs doing.

Dragons!

Green dragon Asher 7

This is some of Asher’s art from this year. (He is 7.) I am afraid I can’t say exactly what month he created these, but I loved them so much I set them aside to keep and then misplaced them until now—which is OK because NOW it’s Michaelmas! And dragons are always appropriate for Michaelmas!

yellow dragon Asher 7
He drew these fine specimens, then cut them out. When I scanned them, of course, they reacquired their white backgrounds.

Black and green dragons Asher 7

I’m pretty sure these are influenced by the “How to Train Your Dragon” film. No matter. I think they’re wonderful.

I adore how sure he is in his drawing, how he means every stroke, but isn’t going to agonize over any of it. He makes a choice, executes it, and moves on. He is prolific and entirely free when drawing, whether he’s creating imaginary creatures or knights with intricate battle armor. He adores sketchbooks and making mural-size art.

 

Salad Days

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I ate soooo many salads this summer. Starting around June 4, I decided I wanted to eat more vegetables and challenged myself to eat 100 salads this summer.

I had one rule:
1. They had to be meal salads, which means they could have meat or other protein or fat or dairy or carbs like croutons or quinoa, but they must be mostly vegetables.

I didn’t count side salads, like when we had hamburgers and salad, or when we had pork chops and salad.

I'm calling this a breakfast salad. #100saladsummer #food

Breakfast salad Kale, Brussels sprouts,  cabbage, sungold tomatoes,  over-medium egg. #100saladsummer #food #summer #health

Then, for the first time in my life, I started eating breakfast salads.

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Salad days continue #summer #100saladsummer #food #health

I ate salads for lunch and salads for dinner.

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Salad number 22 #summer #food #health #100saladsummer

Still eating meal salads ... I think this is 19. #100saladsummer #food #summer

Lunch salad: chicken, spinach, broccoli, snap peas, tomatoes

Power lunch: kale salad with hard-boiled egg and good salami, coconut water "martini" #summer #food #health #100saladsummer

(Alas, that was coconut water and not a martini.)

Salad number 51, approximately.  I lost count. #100saladsummer #food #summer #health

And I know you don’t really care what I eat (ate). Totally fair. But this challenge I created for myself was good for me and I’m very happy I did it.

Grocery store kale salad. Too sweet, but I ate every bite. #100saladsummer #food #summer #health

Grand total? Not 100. I ate approximately 57 meal salads from June 4 to Sept 22.  I lost count somewhere in the 30s, and made an educated guess. That’s 57 burritos I didn’t eat! I call that a win.

 

Tutorial: Michael’s Sword Napkin Holders for Michaelmas

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Can you feel it in the air? Michaelmas is coming!

This craft project is one that I created for the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book published by Little Acorn Learning. I’m posting it here courtesy of Little Acorn Learning. Please take a moment to look at all the fun projects and crafts and celebration ideas offered in our e-book. It provides so many wonderful, Waldorf-inspired ideas for enjoying this early fall season.

Michael’s Sword Napkin Holders

This simple craft project is one that the kids can do mostly on their own, with a little supervision. The napkin holders are a perfect special touch for your holiday table and a special Michaelmas meal.

Materials

  • toilet paper rolls (each makes two napkin holders)
  • masking tape
  • wide popsicle sticks
  • narrow half-size popsicle sticks
  • heavy-duty scissors
  • sandpaper
  • blue acrylic paint (or your preferred color)
  • yellow watercolor paint
  • paintbrushes
  • mod podge
  • gold glitter (optional)
  • low temperature glue gun and glue stick

Tutorial

Cut your toilet paper holders into halves. Try not to squish them too much. Wrap each ring with masking tape. It can be smooth or bumpy.

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With your blue acrylic paint, paint the tape covered rings thoroughly and let them dry.

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With heavy-duty scissors, cut one end of a wide popsicle stick to a point. If your stick splits, discard it and try another.

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With sandpaper, sand the pointed end so that it’s smooth and without splinters. This is the sword blade.

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Paint all of the sword blades and the same number of short popsicle sticks with a wash of golden watercolor paint. Let the pieces dry. When the blue rings are completely dry, coat them with a coat of mod podge. Paint it on just like paint. Let them dry again.

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With a little mod podge, you can add just a little gold glitter to your blue rings. Less is more for this step, or simply skip this part, if you prefer. Let the rings dry completely.

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Meanwhile, arrange your sword blades and cross pieces. Be sure all the wood pieces are completely dry before attempting to glue them. Apply a small dot of hot glue to the sword blade, add the cross piece, and press firmly. Repeat this for all the swords. (Supervise the kiddos during this stage. The little swords may be VERY exciting!)

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Add a little wavy line of hot glue to your dry blue ring.

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Quickly add a sword and press it down firmly.

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Let them set. Store the napkin rings someplace safe until the Michaelmas festival arrives.

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For your special Michaelmas meal, ask the children to pull a pretty napkin through each Michael sword napkin ring and set the table.

Check out the other ideas for a special Michaelmas meal in the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book published by Little Acorn Learning. Here is a teaser of all the sweet projects you’ll find in the e-book. Click on the link or the mosaic picture. Eileen Straiton and I would be honored if you would share. xo

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas

in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

 

 

School Days Are Back

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First day of school, September 2, 2014. Lucas is in seventh grade now. He is handsomer, and more grown up every day. (Alack! He is 5 feet 1.25 inches tall now!) He is bracing himself for more and harder schoolwork. I think he knows the stakes are higher and more will be expected of him. I’ve seen him mature a good deal over the summer. He is ready.

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Asher is starting second grade. Asher really didn’t want to go (this is the only shot he let me take in the morning before we drove to school). Asher gets a little nervous. I choose to take this sad face as evidence that he really enjoys his family time.

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But he jumped right in as soon as he saw his friends, playing tag, racing up the play structure, and then horsing around in line before shaking his teacher’s hand and going into the classroom.

Asher says recess is the best thing about school. He is excited about music class, with Ms. Greenberg. “It’s so fun!” Main lesson is boring, he says (they are beginning with Form Drawing). He likes German and Spanish, but German more. He hates Eurhythmy. So basically, he’s right where I’d expect him to be. My beautiful precocious boy is right on the cusp of learning to read. He cracks this joke all the time in a silly English accent: “I can’t read!” But soon, that won’t be true any more.

 

Love Is …

My children have learned the value of money. They both have things they want to buy, and are seeking jobs to earn cash. Asher claims this is 600 spikey balls, worth a penny each (because I hate them littering my yard). Lucas is presently sweeping and mopp

  • Seattle with my love—three glorious days away from home.
  • Grandmas who babysit my boys for free so I can meet my deadlines.
  • Dry Cucumber Soda.
  • Great summertime piano progress!
  • Giving away our handmade (and mama-made) treasures to younger children, who might just enjoy some of them.
  • Knowing my little niece is just down the street, attending a Waldorf in-home preschool that Lucas went to when he was little.
  • Watching my 12-year-old lace up his fancy new kicks and go running in preparation for the fall cross country season.
  • Joining in with a bunch of friendly, eager people from our Class of 2020 to do yard work for some beloved grandparents, who kindly bought the work day at our school fundraising auction—especially watching these rising seventh-graders hard at work pruning, shoveling gravel, and carrying heavy things.
  • Kayaking with my loves. (We need to build two skegs!)
  • Boys who wake up in the morning and play chess.
  • Beautiful, fresh-laid eggs, even if during the summer my boys don’t want to eat them.
  • Seeing old friends embrace change with camaraderie, grace, and style even while they are sad, and wishing them every happiness.
  • Handsome boys who spent the summer learning new skills, such as emptying and loading the dishwasher, and embracing (mostly) additional chores and household responsibilities to help Daddy and me.
  • Watching my boys come to understand money in a new way, realize that to have some of the things they want they must earn money and pay for these things themselves, and then actively seek jobs to earn this money (such as picking up liquidambar “spikey balls” and washing cars). They are negotiating when to spend hard-earned money and when to save. This is valuable stuff!
  • My new clothes dryer. Hallelujah for such inventions!
  • A boy who practices math during the summer with equanimity because his mama tells him to.
  • Trying to be patient with our drought, trying to use less water, trying not to cry because of dying plants, lawn, and shrubs.
  • Friends who say yes when I text them that I must get out of the house right now! Please meet me!
  • Friends who invite my children to play. You make the long summertime fun for them and I am so grateful!
  • Friends who work tirelessly to realize a shared dream. Thank you.
  • My dad’s friend George’s gorgeous, delicious tomatoes—but even better, the friendship that he and my dad share.
  • Making new friends online who do amazing things, capture spectacular moments, and share their talent with the world. I enjoy seeing their art very much.
  • Wondering what the future will bring, being patient in not knowing all answers, and trusting.

Such progress this summer!  I'm proud of my son. #summer #boys #12yearold #seventhgrade #piano #learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayaking

Maiden voyage of the new-to-us kayaks that we've had for years. :-) They are harder to use than they look. #summer #boys #7yearold #12yearold #slowsummerseries #lake

We did it! We finally took our two kayaks out for a spin (really) on Lake Natoma on Sunday. A number of years ago, we were given two kayaks by my parents’ friends, the Joneses. They are sit-inside whitewater river kayaks, the really nimble kind that can flip over and back up, the kind whose pilots wear helmets. The first obstacle to enjoying this generous gift was we didn’t know how to use them. The second was that our boys were still rather small. The third was that we had no way of transporting them to any body of water.

So they sat. And waited.

We have a truck now, though, (we call it Bruce) and on a whim Sunday, we decided to see what we could do with these kayaks.

Kayaking!  #summer #boys #7yearold #secondgrader

We also rented a two-man sit-on-top kayak for Asher to ride on. He took to it like, well, a little boy on a boat! He loved jumping off and swimming in the lake too. “Wow, this life vest really makes it easy!”

My love #summer #love #marriage #lake

The kayaks we own have rounded bottoms without a keel. Paddling them in a straight line is tough. When I was piloting mine, I could go straight for a handful of strokes, and then the kayak would spin toward my paddle in the water to point in the opposite direction. This repeated spinning was frustrating. Ian had better luck than I did, using a ton of core strength and the foot pegs to counteract the spinning force.

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Lucas was a natural, really. He has way more experience with this sort of thing than the rest of us do, thanks to summer camps and stuff. He piloted one of our kayaks with good success, despite the spinning tendency. I regret not getting a shot of him in the kayak, but I was justifiably worried about dropping my phone in the drink.

We learned a lot and had fun. We learned that this little lake is a wonderful local resource that we should use more often. We learned that mama shouldn’t leave the sunscreen in the truck with the snacks. We learned that renting a kayak is a little pricey, but very nice (and easier to pilot than ours). We learned that Asher loves the water (we kind of knew he would). We learned, again, that Lucas is a competent young man who loves a challenge.

So thank you, Joneses, for this amazing gift! We hope to enjoy these kayaks more often in the future.

Our Evenings

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We have been spending our summer evenings reading. Daddy has been reading Harry Potter books to us for hours almost every night. We’re into the middle of book 4 now, and the children’s enthusiasm for this nightly ritual has not waned. They even prefer this over a movie night.

#magic #7yearold

You might say it has ignited their imagination.

Wizard #summer #boys #7yearold

This one loves to shout spells and play wizard.

Reading Harry Potter book 3 tonight under the wisteria while rare, blessed raindrops fall.

Sometimes we read outside together, if its not too hot. Sometimes we’re inside, enjoying the AC. Ian got the ebooks too, so if we’re out at a restaurant he can read to us while we’re waiting for a table, or when we’re waiting for the play to begin.

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Ian is a master of funny voices and accents. It’s amazing to hear him read a conversation in a scene with eight wizards in the room, some sounding Scottish, Irish, Russian, English, American, powerful, weak, evil, or snobby. He switches between these various voices with such facility. I applaud at the end of certain scenes because they sound damned difficult to read aloud!

I’m loving this summer’s evening entertainment. I love how we’re all enjoying it, how the Harry Potter books have wide enough appeal that all four of us are engaged. It’s simple, and sweet, and bonding.

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  • About Sara

    Hello! Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, a freelance editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2014 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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