Three Amigos

buddies

We took these fellas to the theater to see Rapunzel at the Chautauqua Playhouse. I wanted a date with Asher, and I want us to see more live theater, but I didn’t want to hear him moan and groan about not wanting to go without Lucas and Dad. So I contacted some of our friends from school and got two buddies and their mamas to agree to meet us there.

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three friends at the theatre

The play was cute and I think the boys enjoyed it. Asher told me that Rapunzel does NOT have red mylar hair—everyone knows Rapunzel has yellow hair. “Who says?” I asked. “Everyone.”

This year, these first graders have seen Beauty and the Beast, which was a little too intense for them, and The Little Mermaid, performed by the high school, which was just fine for Asher but not so fine for some. Rapunzel was a nice example of children’s theatre without any scary bits.

Back in December, we saw a British pantomime, and my kids LOVED it. (The actors threw candy at the audience.) I recently bought tix to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the four of us. Should be fun! We’re lucky to live in a city that has lots of good theater for children.

He’s Home

He's home! Tired and dirty,  but happy. #waldorf #11yearold #sixthgrade #camping

Boy and his dog #11yearold #sixthgrade #home

This was Friday afternoon. My beautiful son came home—tired, dirty, and a little wiser. He had a wonderful time. I think there were hard parts to his class camping/farming trip, but he wasn’t too cold or too wet. Or at least not so much as to ruin his trip. He says he wants to spend more time with Farmer Harl at Rudolf Steiner College.

The next sixth-grade class trip is in May, I think.

We are so in-between now. He’s responsible about some things and irresponsible about others. I guess that’s called growing up.

 

On the Beauty and Oddness of This Week

My Lucas #spring #waldorf #sixthgrade #camping #11yearold

My son has gone away. He is with his Waldorf class and two teachers at Steiner College for the week, working with and for the master biodynamic farmer (who probably has an official and better title than the one I’ve just used). The sixth grade kids are farming, fulfilling CSA orders, feeding and caring for animals, and camping out—four nights and five days.

Brave teacher #spring #waldorf #sixthgrade #camping

Sixth grade camping trip.  They are going to have so much fun.  #spring #waldorf #sixthgrade #11yearold #camping

Aren’t they beamish? Aren’t they mighty?

The rain came down in buckets yesterday, day 3. Then it hailed. A little tornado touched down a few miles northeast of here. Let me assure you, we do not get tornadoes here, except for yesterday.

I am amused by my own mixed feelings of worry and delight that this special camping/farming adventure became an honest-to-goodness adventure in weather, a test of endurance in the wet. I worry a little that my son is/was cold and miserable. But I don’t really think that’s what is happening. I believe my son is having a fantastic time. I believe Lucas is out there having the time of his life, actually, being tough, learning how competent and capable he is, working hard, and being silly among all of his friends. I believe they are bonding. Even if the kids have moments of misery or homesickness, I believe this trip will be a highlight of Waldorf primary school, among a whole galaxy of sparkling, magical Waldorf school experiences.

I believe that. I won’t get to know until Friday afternoon, when I pick him up. Until then, I hope, while the rain continues to fall.

I also believe that this is more a test for us parents than a test for our 11- and 12-year-olds. I believe it is meant to prove to us that they are growing up, and can handle more (far more) than we give them credit for. They can handle themselves. They have a solid foundation that we have painstakingly built for them, and from this they are launching themselves. (Whether we’re ready or not.)

What a wonderful thing! What a beautiful, odd thing!

Watching the rare hail come down #spring

So, this little fellow, who only rarely is without his brother, is having a week of only-child status.

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My little scientist

He doesn’t mind too much. He’s had extra attention from mama, and visited with grandparents. Papa even took him to the ice-cream parlor, just the two of them. He can play with all the LEGOs. Plus, the crazy weather gave us the opportunity to collect hailstones in a big bowl and then do color science with food dyes—my little potion-maker!

Having only one child to care for this week has felt odd. And being with this little guy, without big brother around to influence or direct him or make him feel like he has to act older than he is, is beautiful thing, too.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day baking. #baking #vegan #waldorf #festivals

Asher and I baked vegan sugar cookies yesterday. I always forget how long you’re supposed to chill the dough to make rolling and cutting the cookies easier.

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Lucas, Asher, Daddy, our dinner guest Kimmie, and I decorated the cookies after supper. I think we all enjoyed it.

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Aren’t they pretty? Icing made from coconut oil is delicious, by the way. We made these treats to leave some out for the Leprechauns (and for us to enjoy!).

Party set for the Leprechauns! Tea and cookies, with cream and honey. #waldorf #spring #leprechauns #festivals

Here is the little party we set out for the Wee Folk last night. Shamrock cookies, hot mint tea, honey, and cream.

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Opening gifts from the Leprechauns early this morning.

Early this morning, we found the Leprechauns had eaten up all the goodies and left the boys presents. Two pots of gold! With five gold dollar coins each and rainbow sour candy wrapped in gold paper.

It wasn’t until later, when the boys were getting ready to leave for school, that we realized the Leprechauns played a prank on us after all. They duct taped all our shoes closed! Those wonderful, pesky Leprechauns!

Tonight we’re going to dinner at our friends’ house. We’re bringing cookies!

Tutorial: Making Leprechauns

Leprechaun Dolls for Asher and Lucas

Sew some clothes for bendy dolls to make them look like sweet Leprechaun friends. They make wonderful friends for your kids to play with this time year and older children can make their own with supervision. Or make leprechauns in secret and have them magically appear on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day!

Materials

* wool, wool-blend, or eco felt in various greens
* rope bendy doll body
* embroidery floss
* yarn or wool roving for hair
* white glue

Tutorial

Measure the doll’s body to get a sense of how long the shirt or dress should be. Using these measurements, draw a simple shirt or dress pattern on paper and cut it out. I recommend using generous proportions. Lay the paper pattern on a doubled piece of felt and cut it out. (Make trousers the same way, first drawing a pattern and cutting out the felt.)

Leprechaun Doll and Notebook for Lucas

For a waist band, simply do a running stitch around the top of the skirt or trousers. Pull it tight. For added security, you could glue the skirt or pants onto the doll’s wooden body.

No hemming is necessary with felt, although you can put a pretty blanket stitch along the bottom of a shirt, skirt, or dress to make it even more attractive.

You could even cut out a small shamrock shape for a decoration and sew it to the front of your doll’s shirt, skirt, or dress. Or embellish the front of the outfit with pretty embroidery. (I’m not good at that kind of decorative stitching.)

Leprechaun Doll and Notebook for Lucas

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Don’t forget to make a jaunty hat! Experiment with your felt and fold it to fashion a hat—any shape you like will do. I made one hat out of a half-circle of felt, stitched up the curved front so the top points backward. Another hat I made by folding a rectangle of felt to make two layers, then folding it around my doll’s head to make a cone, and sewing it along the top and back.

Glue hair, either yarn or wool roving, onto the wooden head and then glue on the hat. Your Leprechauns are now ready for gentle play.

Marveling About Sixth Grade

Once again I’m in awe of what’s happening in my son’s sixth grade Waldorf class. Everything around him and everything in him is leveling up, stretching, ready to take on more. The class started this year with a new teacher and immediately tackled Rome and manned the Michaelmas dragon. They’ve studied astronomy, physics, added more mathematics into every day, and started writing essays. They’ve recently been through the Fall of Rome and are now working a unit on economics. They’ve begun to participate in organized individual and team sports at school, complete with coaches, practices, and competitions.

Right now, the sixth graders are studying economics and the mathematics that goes with it: money, interest, etc. They are launching into their study of the Middle Ages, too.

What’s more, they have a new class this year, taught by two amazing teachers: Social Arts class is one in which these gorgeous “tweens” are tackling issues of communication, individuality, self-expression, friendship, respect, personal space, and more to build a firm foundation for the coming (challenging) years. These children on the cusp of adolescence are courageous in so many deep and awe-inspiring ways. And Social Arts and their study of the Middle Ages are dovetailing into this:

The students have been asked to develop their own personal coat of arms and their own motto that reflect who they are. They have each chosen three challenges—physical, moral, and intellectual—which they must work on each day. Parents must sign off, to indicate the student worked toward meeting these challenges. In two weeks they will have a special overnight at school, complete with a nighttime vigil, scribing, and an initiation alone. In the morning they will be knighted in a special ceremony, complete with costumes, pageantry, and a medieval feast that follows.

My son has committed to running two miles every day, being nicer to his brother, and practicing his piano 10 minutes every day. These are his ideas and I appreciate how he picked things that are challenging and require diligence, but are within reach. Naturally, his other responsibilities and homework will continue during this time. He has done two days of twelve.

Then, a week after this knighting ceremony, his class will go on a five day trip to a local biodynamic garden, to work and study economics and food. They will be a stone’s throw from home, but gone longer than ever before.

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I have been quieter on the subject of this child lately. I am sensing a shift in him and I want to respect his individuality and his privacy. Several people have asked me if I’ll keep blogging when my boys get bigger. I don’t really know; I guess that is a question I’ll have to continually ask. And I’ll do the best I can because, frankly, I’m off the map. Public and private life is different in this world than it used to be.

I write here for so many reasons. To figure stuff out—most especially myself—and to chronicle our experiences as a family. I write to hash out my feelings and record my discoveries and observations as a parent because this journey of motherhood is the most challenging thing I have ever undertaken and I am learning every day. I also write to honor ourselves as individuals, for at each moment we are beautiful, striving, growing, and changing, and to honor our relationships, for these too morph as we go through time together.

So much change is happening for this sweet son of mine. It is hard at times and wonderful. I stand in awe of him and all he is now, knowing that he has so very much more becoming to do. I am so grateful that our parenting is supported by this sixth grade curriculum and that we are surrounded by so many loving educators who are willing to honor this age. Truly, we are educating his head, heart, and hands.

Love Is …

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* A night out dancing and celebrating with my sparkling friends.
* Grandparents who take my boys overnight so I can be with adults at a nightclub.
* Friends who figuratively put on their wellies and step into the muck to help others, who sacrifice and do the work and give so much of themselves.
* Visiting my mother-in-law over coffee, and admiring how she has already thriving vegetable garden seedlings under a grow light in her dining room.
* New-to-us chairs from my parents; they’re more comfortable than any chairs we have, even if they are a shade or two too purple.
* Working all together on housekeeping chores that might not be fun, but that make our living together easier and our home the haven we want it to be.
* Giving away wonderful games and puzzles to my sweet nieces.
* A brief visit from my brother and his girlfriend, who brought us the chairs.
* Gardening time: I planted pansies, divided day lilies to make two new clumps, planted forsythia, planted two irises that have been in pots a while. I was able to divide each iris into several groups.
* Watching my garden come alive again with new shoots, daffodils, magnolia, and azaleas blooming, and tulips coming up. My plum trees are clothed in flower clouds, too.
* Rain. Yumptious, sloppy, wet rain that soaks the ground and demonstrates our persistent drainage problems.
* Flower and seed catalogs that come in the mail.
* Being done with basketball season, but also feeling so grateful for all Lucas learned, for his wonderful coach and teammates, and for a wholly positive experience.
* Having work to do, even if it’s not very interesting. I’m learning more about surgery than I ever have before.
* A reunion with my husband; although I hate it when he goes (and I try not to whine), I love it when he comes home.
* Taking my dad to a Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert this week
* Little Fur audiobooks, which are entertaining my little son while he’s home sick today.
* Window stars.
* Fractal vegetables and welcome-home dinners.
* The sixth-grade Waldorf curriculum, which is so brilliantly meeting our son.

Edible fractals #waldorf #math #food #wholefood #csa #farmfreshtoyou

Valentine’s Day Catch-Up

Asher's finished valentines. His idea, design, and words. I did the writing for him. #valentine #holiday #son #waldorf #firstgrade #sweet

I know Valentine’s Day was two weeks ago, but we’ve been out of town on vacation, and then reentering work and school life. I won’t belabor it, but I do want to leave a picture of how we celebrated this year.

Expert valentine maker says, "Don't take my picture. It's in PROGRESS!" #valentine #son #papercrafts #holiday #homemade #love. #loveinthesuburbs

Asher made valentines for classmates. His teacher divided the class into groups and the children gave valentines to the other kids in their groups. It was so much easier making six valentines instead of 27!

Four new napkins for our Valentine's Day family meals #valentine #sewing #home #holiday #homemade #loveinthesuburbs

I did a little sewing, which I rarely do but really enjoy. I made six new napkins for our home.

New napkins #valentine #holiday #home #homemade #waldorf #loveinthesuburbs

Happy Valentine's Day! May love be forever increasing in your lives!

We had a lovely breakfast and dinner together, with a pretty table setting and the pathway of paper hearts leading from the boys’ bedrooms to the kitchen, which is something I’ve done for many years. I was thinking of not doing that this year because we were leaving on vacation shortly after and I thought I’d avoid the extra cleanup work. But then Asher told me the night before, “Mama, don’t forget to put all the hearts on the floor.”

For my sons

They got a couple of chocolates and a stuffed toy each. And mama-made valentines, of course.

Lucas, in sixth grade, had a Valentine’s Day Roman feast; they were finishing up a block on Roman history and celebrated with a toga-clad feast.

Best Valentine’s Day Books for Young Children

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Are you looking for a good Valentine’s Day story to share with your family? Good luck! I’ve found that by and large the pickings are pretty slim. I started writing this post of my favorite Valentine’s Day picture books more than a year ago, and it’s pretty much too late to be much use this year. But what the heck, right? I’ve done a lot of research to develop this list and I can assure you that many, many titles didn’t make my list. (Write me and I’ll give you my opinions about what to avoid.) As usual, I recommend steering clear of any holiday book from a movie or TV franchise.

Snowy Valentine, by David Peterson, 2011

I think this is my favorite of all the books in this list. Peterson is the author/illustrator of Mouse Guard comic book series, for those of you in the know. This is his first picture book. In it, Jasper bunny searches the forest for a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife Lilly. He looks to his neighbors for ideas, and considers knitting a gift, chocolate-covered flies, and wilted flowers. He narrowly escapes the fox’s soup pot! (This part could be unsettling for the youngest readers.) Over the course of his day, Jasper creates the best possible valentine for Lilly. The story and illustrations are compelling.

Henry in Love, by Peter McCarty, 2009

A simple, tender story about a first crush. Henry brings a blueberry muffin in his lunch. Henry likes Chloe very much; he really likes the way she does cartwheels. Chloe and Henry get to sit together at lunchtime, and he gives her his blueberry muffin. Good for the Kindergarten or first- or second-grade child.

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Woof A Love Story, by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Holly Berry, 2009

“A dog is a dog and a cat is a cat, and most of the time it’s as simple as that.” Dogs and cats are different, but it doesn’t stop the dog from falling in love with the cat. Dog tries and tries to say “I love you!” but unfortunately, they don’t speak the same language. Cat can’t understand him, until he finds the universal language of love that she can understand. The illustrations in this book are bold and vibrant.

Plant a Kiss, by Amy Krouse, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, 2011

A perfect choice for a toddler or preschooler. Its adorable illustrations and rhyming text are cute, and it’s pages are embossed, so there is a tactile element to the reading experience. The meaning is simple: Love grows!

Mouse and Mole Secret Valentine, by Wong Herbert Yee, 2013

Secret Valentine is a 40-page “chapter book” for early readers. If you like Frog and Toad books, you’ll probably like Yee’s Mouse and Mole books too. Together Mouse and Mole make valentines for all of their forest friends, and the text gently teaches simple valentine-making skills such as cutting hearts and applying glue and glitter and then tapping off excess glitter. Then Mouse and Mole deliver their valentines together and have lunch at a restaurant. Each wants to give a secret valentine to the other, and they visit the sweet shop and the flower shop for gifts. Then they attend a Valentine’s Day dance. This book shows an innocent romance for little readers or listeners.

One Zillion Valentines, by Frank Modell, 1981

This is a sweet story about two friends, Marvin and Milton. They learn that “Valentines aren’t just for girls. Valentines are for everybody,” and “If you don’t send any, you don’t get any,” and finally that you can make your own. They make valentines for everyone in the neighborhood, and they sell some, too. With the money they earn they buy some chocolate and end up giving it to each other. This is the only Valentine’s Day book I found that includes same-sex valentines.

The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jan Brett, 1983

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Mr. and Mrs. Bear hibernate in the winter, but Mrs. Bear sets her alarm clock for February 14 to wake up and celebrate Valentine’s Day, even though it’s not spring yet. Mr. Bear sleeps on. She makes lots of preparations such as getting honey, beetles, and bugs. They celebrate together, and then go back to sleep till spring. The black, white, and red pictures in this book are charming, but not as lavish as many of Brett’s other works.

Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Valentine Trick, by Jan Wahl, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, 1977

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Find this one at your library, maybe. The animals of the forest want to know if spring is coming (but Groundhog doesn’t do his job). They are grumpy with each other and tired of winter. Terrible Owl and Tired Fox steal food. Pleasant Field Mouse figures out a way to make his neighbors happy again. The pictures are black and white ink drawings as you see above. This is a good read-aloud story for 4–8s.

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The Day It Rained Hearts, by Felicia Bond, 2006, was previously published as Four Valentines in a Rainstorm (1983). Cornelia Augusta catches hearts that fall from the sky and turns them into valentines. Because each one is different, she’s able to make unique valentines for her friends. This book is an endearing choice for a young child.

Bee My Valentine, by Miriam Cohen, illustrated by Ronald Himler, 2009.

This book explores the social life of the first grade. The teacher directs her class to make a valentine for all the children in the class. But they don’t all follow her instruction; some kids send extra valentines to their best friends or even to themselves! George gets fewer valentines than anyone. This makes him feel sad and left out, and he hides in the coat room. The class then cheers George up by playing music for him. The art in the book is quite beautiful, but the valentines are all store-bought and the whole scenario makes me wonder where the kids’ parents are. I would never allow my child to fail to bring a valentine for everyone.

Love Splat, by Rob Scotton, 2008

Splat has a crush on Kitten, and he made her a special valentine. But Spike also likes Kitten and this discourages Splat. Eventually, Splat learns that Kitten likes him back. Very simple. Cute. Not at the top of my list, though.

Will You Be My Valentine, by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Lillian Hoban, 1993

This older story is OK. The story explores the feelings a young child might have when wanting to play with a child of the opposite gender, and not being sure if that person likes him. It covers his insecurity and jealousy when another boy gives his female friend a valentine. The mother in the story does a good job of facilitating their friendship. Some might think it’s a sweet story, as Thomas and Gretchen become friends and each other’s special valentines at the end, but I feel it’s too gender stereotypical and kind of mature for the age of the kids in the story, who appear to be Kindergarteners or first graders. Also, the way the teacher organizes Valentine’s Day for her class is crazy: She has each child choose one name out of a hat. Recipe for disaster.

Cranberry Valentine, Wende and Harry Devlin

I have lukewarm feelings about this one, I admit. But since I didn’t hate it, I figured I’d include it here. Mr. Whiskers has never had a valentine before, but this year he gets one from an anonymous giver—in fact, he gets several. At first this is very upsetting to him, but then he thinks, well,why not me? “I’m the best clam digger in the bog country. I have wonderful whiskers. I sing like a blinking bird.” Turns out, the local sewing circle has been sending him valentines. I don’t really see what about this book would appeal to children, apart for the recipe for cranberry upside down cake in the back of the book, which is cake from a mix plus cranberries. This book is part of a five-book series about the town of Cranberryport. Maybe this book is better taken in the context of the other titles in this series.

Easy Valentine’s Day Decorations

Valentine's Day decorations

Here’s a quick, easy decoration you can make with the kids for Valentine’s Day. I thank Family Chic for the inspiration. We used chenille stems instead of wire and I like the way the hearts have red outlines. Also, the yarn sticks pretty nicely to to the fuzzy coating; we didn’t have to wrap the yarn all the way around the wire each time. We used up some scrap yarn that Grandma gave us. It’s always lovely to use what you have on hand already, don’t you think?

Bend chenille stems (aka pipe cleaners) into heart shapes. Tie one end of pink, red, white, or variegated yarn to anyplace on the heart shape. Now wrap the yarn around the heart every which way, or any way that pleases you, taking care not to pull it too tight and distort the heart shape. You can cover the heart in as much or as little yarn webbing as you like. When you’re ready, tie it to the middle top of your heart and leave an end long enough to serve as a hanger.

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I decided to hang our hearts on a stick I found on the ground outside.

These hearts look great hanging on the wall or in groups. And if you use other colors of chenille stems and yarn, they would make pretty decorations for other special occasions, too! Imagine them in rainbow colors for a birthday party, or as a wall hanging in a child’s bedroom!

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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.

    © 2003–2013 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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