Good Saint Nicholas Visited

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My boys put out their shoes last night in the hopes that St. Nicholas would visit on his feast day of December 6. In the morning we woke to this: shoes full of simple treasures. They each received a small pot of honey, rock candy lollies in Christmas colors, a chocolate in the shape of a Swiss army knife, and a small, bejeweled magnifying glass.

I admit it’s a challenge to continue to put in the effort involved in celebrating festivals at home. Life just seems to get busier and busier, and we’re always adapting. I find it’s also difficult to keep the festivals alive for younger children when their older siblings age out of them. However, Lucas obligingly threw his Converse sneakers down by the door at 10 p.m. last night, after some prodding on my part. Asher was all in at the first mention of St. Nicholas visiting.

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How do you jolly your olders along to keep the magic alive for your youngers? I’d love to hear ideas! I’m grateful that my older son is still a pretty good sport, most of the time.

Discovering goodies at 0-dark-thirty is always a thrill, is it not?

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The good saint visited the Waldorf school today, too, with his helper Rupert. Here is a photo of him in the Kindergarten (Thank you, Michelle!). Our kids are so blessed. Our beautiful school happily receives St. Nicholas and Rupert every year. They bring small treats to all the students in every grade in the school. Asher reports that he brought an orange and tiny chocolates to everyone in fourth grade. Nicholas prepares the way for the Sun child, who’s coming soon in the deepest part of winter.

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Kind old man Saint Nicholas, dear,
Come into our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something into my shoe;
I’ve been good the whole year through.
Kind old man Saint Nicholas dear,
Come into our house this year.

I’ve written about this simple festival for many years now. Feel free to search in the Archives window at the right for “Nicholas” and you’ll find the posts. Moreover, the St. Nicholas Center online has a gazillion pages of stories and info about this interesting patron saint of children, sailors, scholars, orphans, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, and victims of judicial mistakes. He’s a busy guy.

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

The Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book that I wrote with my dear Eileen is available here, at Little Acorn Learning. It contains loads of fun ideas.

I left for work today at 7:30. It’s been a long, tiring day of editing a high-speed train document, commuting, helping Asher with homework, managing a difficult but productive viola practice session, searching for a missing spelling list, asthma testing and meds, stories, emails, and now this little missive. I feel often like I’ve got so many juggling balls in the air right now, and keep adding more. But with each new one another ball drops. I’ve realized I need to refocus a bit more on providing supports for Asher. Although he’s quite good at doing a lot of stuff on his own, he needs more practice with spelling words and math, more practice with viola (he feeling really lost and left behind in strings class), and more assistance making sure his homework gets done. I’ve put reminders in my phone to help me help him. And no matter how tired I am in the evening, we need to attend to these things to establish a good rhythm. And all of this is part of a bigger effort to deal with Asher’s anxiety. The more prepared he is, the less he’ll feel anxiousI hope.

Motherhood. It ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

Halloween Fun

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“Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.”

What can I say? We LOVE Halloween! And I know we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I am behind as usual, but these pics are just too cute not to post. In a moment of last minute inspiration, Ian and I decided to dress as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

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Morticia: When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy.
Gomez: A girl.
Morticia: An open grave. It was my first funeral.
Gomez: You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse.

We went to a party hosted by the family of one of Asher’s best friends. There was ghoulish fun for the kids, including an impromptu toilet paper fight (after the mummy making, of course), and good wine and conversation for the grown-ups.

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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Asher went as a king in shining armor. We bought a costume modeled on a character from a video game that none of us knew anything about. For him, it was all about the boss costume. We shopped for it online because time was short, and Asher said, “Mom, are you sure you want to spend that much money on me?” Oh, yes, my little Love. Yes, I do.

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#halloween #king

The sword with the lion head on it sealed the deal. And of course, he needed a bloody wound. This so perfectly shows how he’s in-between: kind of a big kid, kind of not.

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Lucas wasn’t feeling especially inspired this year as he has been many years in the past. However, he pulled out a creepy zombie getup with ease.

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Asher got to play with some of his buddies from school at the party. (Thanks to Melissa for the photo!)

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Most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween itself was on a rainy Monday evening, and we happily joined friends for a bit of trick-or-treating in East Sacramento. This year, the Halloween Fairy was not invoked, nor did she trade gifts for our boys’ candy (for her wee sugar babies to eat). The kids ate some, and the rest, well … it disappears relatively quickly.

Love Is …

Fragments of my heart

Love is …
• A friend who hauls your Country Mouse ass downtown and back every day with a smile and unflappable traffic savvy.
• A takeout sushi dinner to celebrate ch-ch-cha-cha-changes on the evening of the first day of a new job.
• Clever people who correct broken AC units (both at work and at home) and stop the sweltering; thanks for taking care of that, Ian.
• A teen who willingly goes on evening walks with his mama: “We can catch Pokémon, Mom!”
• BBQ at Papa and Grandma’s house, with swimming and all the foods.
• Chicago Fire Pizza.
• Getting to be a tourist in your home town.
• Lunchtime exercise walking at the Capitol, along with all the state workers, lawyers, and tourists.
• Hoping my feet don’t smell after my lunchtime walks.
• Finishing the third Pippi Longstocking book with Asher, who is sad there aren’t more Pippi books to enjoy.
• Discovering a neat little gizmo from the library called a Playaway, a single-audio-book device on a lanyard that runs on a AAA battery—perfect for little people who don’t have iPods or tablets to carry around everywhere.
• Getting a text that says, “When will you be home; I’ll have dinner ready.”
• My Village of helpers—Angels!—who cheerfully cart my boys hither and thither and care for them after their daily activities or even when no camp activity is available; they are amazing and wonderful.

California Capitol. Half mast. #summer #nicefrance  #thoughtsandprayersarentenough #loveinthesuburbs #lovewins #enoughisenough #wearenotafraid

Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building,  1928

My Lovely Mother’s Day

Rose bouquet from my garden

My mother’s day was restful and fun. I loved every bit of it.
I was well and truly pampered yesterday. I got to sleep in and lounge in bed with coffee and a book, and then I was treated to Ian’s homemade cherry scones and caramelized onion quiche. Soooo good. Nothing like picking two recipes out of a cookbook and saying, “Please make me these!” Later on, I was invited to choose some perennials at the nursery, and picked out some flowers for my mother. We visited my parents and gave my mama a hanging basket full of yellow flowers (her favorite). We then visited my mama-in-law and sister-in-law and her family and we gave Mama Chris a gift of coloring book and some colored pencils. (I am very much loving my coloring as a way to wind down, and we thought she might too.)
Ian cooked me an amazing dinner (tri tip steak, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, artichokes, bread). OMG it was good. And while he cooked, I planted my new dought-tolerant plants (two gauda, two salvia, lantana). Gaura the pink one below; it is a native North American wildflower and I’ve never tried to grow it before. It is very drought- and heat-tolerant. Perfect!

My drought-tolerant mother's day flowers: gaura, salvia, and lantana
Asher gave me a beautiful silk scarf he dyed rose with cochineal at school and a wonderful card. Lucas gave me a painting he made. Both boys were sweet and helpful. I am a fortunate mama, indeed. I love my boys with my whole being.
I even got to take a few minutes and make a garden mandala. And my 4 by 4 photo prints arrived, which was like getting another present. And my sweet MIL gave us fresh eggs!
Garden Mandala No. 55 #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #lambsear #rockroses #calendula #starjasmine

I also did laundry, dishes, cleaned sink and toilet, and changed my bed — because life is both work and play, rest and striving. I played with my dogs. And I finished my beautiful day by reading Pippi Longstocking to my little Asher. I feel wonderful, appreciated, and happy.

Happy Mother’s Day (a day late)
* to all the beautiful mamas who show up and do their daily, loving work
* to those mamas who don’t get to mother for one reason or other, and
* to all people (any gender) who do mama-type work for others—the often-unsung work of feeding, holding, helping, inspiring, and keeping healthy, learning, and growing.

Blessed Rain for Earth Day

Gift of raindrops on roses Happy Earth Day indeed! #spring #waldorfhome #earthday #earth #rain #roses #California #drought

Happy Earth Day! It’s raining! This is simply the most perfect blessing for California, and I’m so delighted. My heart is high and full of love and compassion, soaring and aching in turns along with loved ones’ hearts, and grateful to have so much abundant beauty and bounteous love and friendship in my life.

I am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon among the stars
And the mystery of the waters
And the desire of human hearts.

Call unto your soul: Arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of nature who gives
Life to the universe.
From me all things proceed
And unto me all things must return.
—Doreen Valiente

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This is the spirit of Earth Day for me: wonder and celebration, joy and protection, and profound gratitude.

#nofilter #roses

This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere:
the dew is never all dried at once:
a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
—John Muir

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I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.

Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
The hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.

And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.
—Mary de La Valette


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I just couldn’t hold it in. My love and gratitude flies out to all beings—may all of us be blessed with a perfect moment of appreciation for this precious little marble floating in space,  where we live, toil and sweat, and care for each other.

Blessed Be.

P.S. I’m going out now to poke little seeds into soil.

Late Spring Festivals E-Book

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This is just a little reminder that my charming coauthor Eileen Straiton and I wrote an e-book on the Late Spring Festivals, which can be found at the Little Acorn Learning website here. It covers Passover, Earth Day, May Day, and Mother’s Day and is chock-full of of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate the Late Spring Festivals of Passover, Earth Day, Mother’s Day and May Day with your children!

Passover begins this Friday, April 22, and Friday is also Earth Day! Here’s some ways you can enjoy the holidays from our e-book:

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Part One: Passover

Passover Stars Ornament
Hand-painted Seder Plate
Caregiver’s Meditation: Independence

Sprout Babies

Part Two: Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day
Earth Day Science Projects
Canticle to the Sun and Other Nature Poems
Earth-Oriented Meal Blessings and Gratitude Poems
Earth Day Verses and Fingerplays
Coffee Cup Seed Starters
Nature Bracelets
Earth Day Art Project
Moss Garden Terrarium
Strawberry Zucchini Muffins
Brownie Game
Little Sprout Babies and the Story of Mother Bean
Caregiver Meditation: Remaining Grounded


Flower Prints Art Project

Part Three: May Day

Beltane
May Day Verses and Fingerplays
May Dance Song
Watercolor May Crown
Ribbon Wristlets for May Day Dancing
The May Queen and Other May Day Poems
May Day Flower Cones
Crochet Hair Flowers
May Pole Floral Centerpiece
Dandelion Crowns
Dandelion Tea
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

aprons

Part Four: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Tea Party
Mother’s Day Verses and Fingerplays
Homemade Granola Bars
The Nest Circle Game
The White Pebble
Pressed Flower Bookmarks
Pressed Flower Candles
Flower Prints for Mother’s Day
Ideas for Simple Mother’s Day Gifts
Spring Tissue Pouches
Mother and Child Aprons
Caregiver Meditation: Nurturing

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

 

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of the inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thundercloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produced freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Mother Earth, Mother Earth.
Take our seed and give it birth.
Father Sun, Gleam and glow,
Until the root begins to grow.
Sister Rain, Sister Rain.
Shed thy tear to swell the grain.
Brother Wind, breathe and blow,
Then the blade all green will grow.
Earth and Sun and Wind and Rain,
Turn to gold the living grain.

—Eileen Hutchins

Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

Top of the Mornin’: St. Patrick’s Day

Setting up the party for the leprechauns #waldorfhome #waldorf #spring #fairies #leprechauns

Good morning! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’ve had a wonderful morning, with a little leprechaun magic, a surprise or two, and a prank. Those pesky leprechauns. We always think that the party we lay out for them should please them enough not to play a trick on us. But inevitably they do something prankish.

Leprechaun party! #spring #fairies #waldorfhome #waldorf

Here’s the little party we set up for them late yesterday afternoon.

Party for #leprechauns! #spring #waldorfhome #waldorf #fairies #stpatricksday

While we decorated in the slanted golden sunshine and put out milk and honey and flowers, the brownies were baking in the oven. Asher poured a very generous amount of green sprinkles on top, and then we went in.

Good morning! The leprechauns were here! #spring #waldorfhome #waldorf #fairies #stpatricksday #family #9yearold #leprechauns

This morning, Asher discovered they’d left some rainbow colored gems and gold wrapped packages filled with candy: Skittles and some sour rainbow sticks.

Leprechauns brought us skittles and rainbow candy! #spring #waldorfhome #waldorf #fairies #stpatricksday #family #9yearold #leprechauns #magic

Candy first thing in the morning! (There were four little packages of candy. Asher put a package on each of our breakfast plates, assuming that we all got presents from the leprechauns. So sweet!)

It’s a school day, of course, so we had to get on with our routine. Getting dressed was a little tricky, for the leprechauns STOLE ALL THE SOCKS. ALL the socks. Every pair of socks in the whole house was missing! After some frantic searching, we found them all in a huge pile behind an armchair in the living room! Pesky leprechauns!

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Green pancakes for St. Patrick's Day! #waldorfhome #waldorf #holiday #home #stpatricksday #family #love #mornings

We had green buttermilk pancakes and eggs for breakfast. I sent the boys with a few Skittles in their lunches today. I made so many pancakes I invited my parents over for breakfast after the kids went to school.

Now I have socks and gold glitter everywhere! And I have a smile on my face. I know all this is silly. I know getting up at 5:45 for shenanigans in the dark is ludicrous. I do it anyway because the world needs more whimsy, more silliness, more joy.

Tonight we’ll have shepherds pie and brownies with green sugar topping … because why not? WHIMSY! (I promise to read about the Irish famine too.) After dinner, we’ll read one or two of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day books together.

For more whimsy in your day, head over to Little Acorn Learning’s blog and enter the St. Patrick’s Day Photo Scavenger Hunt, for a discount on cool curriculum and festival e-books.

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

 

With love and whimsy, and Irish blessings aplenty, Sláinte!

 

Magical Spring

My forsythia

My eyes have been joyful lately, seeing beauty everywhere. This last month has been full of blossoms and blue skies, and I grabbed as many pretty shots as I could along the way. It’s not quite spring, technically, but there’s plenty of springtime magic to behold.

We four #family #waldorfhome #spring #winterturnstospring

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See the star?

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The early spring light is sometimes warm and buttery, sometimes watery and wan.

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Trees stretch their lacy blooms skyward.

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Winter has no power over me #sacramento #California #visitsacramento #winter #mardigras

Tiny lawn flowers seem to say, “Winter has no power over me!”

Sunny, 72 degrees #sacramento #visitsacramento #California

The almonds in particular have put on quite a show, and the quince is by far the sassiest of all.

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Demure snowdrops sway quietly on the edges, like girls at a cotillion.

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My favorites, perhaps, are the plumb blossoms. They arrive in a rush; one moment the tree is bare, the next it’s enveloped in a cloud of pink. They don’t stay long, just a brief spell. Then they float down to the ground, whole flowers intact, and the earth below is transformed into fairyland.

Eighth-Grade Winter Ball

Dance decorating #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #eighthgrade

I feel so privileged to have been a small part of putting together the Sacramento Waldorf School Winter Ball. This formal dance for eighth graders of all the area Waldorf schools was absolutely stunning.

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Many, many, many thanks to all the devoted parents and teachers who put this event together, but especially to Luisa and Heather, who did the lion’s share of the work. I’m telling you, this winter wonderland event was gorgeous, with a crystal chandelier, twinkling white lights, lighted white winter branches, tables draped in white linens and topped with flower arrangements, catered foods, a chocolate fountain, a DJ who by all reports was awesome, and both a photo booth and a professional photographer. Stars and snowflakes, balloon arches, pro lighting, and everything made it so beautiful.

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These blossoming white trees outside our school gym …

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became these on the night of the dance.

My beautiful young man had a wonderful time. (I would love to post a picture of him, in his beautiful vintage charcoal gray suit jacket, azure blue shirt, and turquoise, blue, and silver silk tie, but he asked me not to.) I dropped him off at 7 p.m., then went to a birthday party alone (Ian was at a work conference out of town and Asher was with my parents). I was able to stay at the party two hours, and I was watching the clock carefully while enjoying my friends. But then right at the end, I got engrossed in a conversation and realized with a start that I was late to leave to pick up Lucas and help clean up the party. I rushed out the door, a middle-aged Cinderella late to pick up her son from the ball! (I wasn’t actually late.)

Parents and our eighth grade class cleaned everything up between 10 and 11, and there were some funny basketball-in-formal-clothes antics at the very end. We all went home happy and tired.

Lucas was all smiles when he told us about the evening. The kids had been taught a good handful of social dances in the weeks leading up to the Winter Ball, including salsa, merengue, waltz, and polka. During the dance, the DJ played a mix of traditional social dances and modern music.

How wonderful that these darling young people had such a positive dance! How wonderful that the parents and teachers are willing to make it special, supporting them in these new reaching out, growing up moments. Perfect!

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, 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.

    © 2003–2018 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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