Birthday Traditions and Gifts from the Waldorf Kindergarten

Birthday Book from Kindergarten

On Wednesday of last week, Ian, Lucas, and I got to spend some time in Asher’s Red Rose Kindergarten class. We got to participate in the morning circle time and then the teacher put a golden silk cape on him and a golden crown with a golden star on it. She then told the story of Asher’s life so far. It went something like this …

Once there was a star child playing in the starry gardens of the sky with other star children and his angel guide. One day, he looked down and saw a beautiful blue-green marble glowing down in the sky below him. He saw children playing in the woods, flying kites while beautiful waves crashing on sandy beaches, and babies snug in their mothers’ arms and thought to himself, I’d like to go there. He told his angel guide what he wanted to do, and the angel replied, “Yes, you may go down to the sparkling world. I will go and find you a mommy and a daddy, who will love you and take care of you and welcome you into their family.”

Then the angel guide came down to the earth and found a mommy and a daddy who loved each other very much. They were ready for a baby to love, who would be a brother for their son and a cherished new child in their family. And so the angel guide helped the star child slide down the rainbow bridge into the welcoming arms of his loving family, where he could learn, and play, and grow, and be himself.

{Teacher leads Asher around the circle, asking the blessing of the stars (other children, who make hand motions showing their blessing), the sun (more children blessing as he passes), and the moon (more children blessing Asher with hand motions. Then, she leads Asher to walk on a rainbow cloth and he crosses and comes to my lap.}

His family named him Asher. When he was an infant, he drank mama milk and grew to be healthy and roly-poly. He was a happy baby and he laughed all the time.

{Teacher rings a bell and places it on a gold star on the table. There are five stars on the table.} When he was one year old, he learned to crawl and visited Mama Ocean. He felt the sand in his hands and on his feet.

{Teacher rings a bell and places it on the second gold star} When he was two years old, he learned to walk and talk. He giggled a lot, especially when his big brother was silly. He went on an airplane with his family and grandparents to an island far away and met some sea turtles.

{Teacher rings a bell and places it on the third gold star} When he was three years old, he went to preschool and made many new friends. He sang and painted and played in the garden, helping to plant the seeds. He also camped in the desert and saw many colorful things.

{Teacher rings a bell and places it on the fourth gold star} When he was four years old, he enjoyed visiting the woods and the beach very much. He played with his brother and joined the Red Rose Kindergarten, where he made many, many more friends.

{Teacher rings a bell and places it on the fifth gold star} And now that he is five, he is very alive. And we are celebrating Asher’s birthday. {Teacher lights a special beeswax birthday candle that I decorated for him at the beginning of the year. All the children sing a birthday song to him.}

Asher was then given two gifts. One was this beautiful book full of birthday drawings from his classmates and his two teachers.

Birthday Book from Kindergarten: Mrs. L's Drawing

This is Mrs. L’s drawing in Asher’s birthday book.

Birthday Book from Kindergarten

This is a drawing from a sweet classmate.

Asher opened his second gift, his very own handmade House Elf. This doll is about 8 inches tall and features a tiny star on the top of his hat.

Gift from Teachers (House Elf)

Asher has named him Miko, and played and played with him this week.

Although Ian and Lucas went to work and class, respectively, I stayed in the Kindergarten for the whole morning. I got to interact with beautiful children and see Asher play with his friends. I got to guess the names of some kids’ Little Ones (small Waldorf dolls that each child has as his or her own special friend).  During snack time we ate oatmeal and the strawberry fairy cakes I baked. We played both inside and outside, did clean-up chores (with each child accomplishing his or her assigned job), and I watched entranced as Asher sat in teacher’s lap and played the lyre, while his classmates rested on the rug. Seeing 18 children lying quietly for 10 minutes or so was nothing short of miraculous. Finally, we ended our beautiful Kindergarten day by going for a walk into the woods all the way to the great fallen oak tree, which my boys and I call the Bee Tree because there is an active beehive in a hole in the trunk of the tree. It is a good 15 feet in the air because the tree roots and branches are propping the trunk up high, like a great archway. It’s a magical place and I love it there. The children climbed the great tree’s branches and then played tag until it was time to walk back.

Asher and I left school then and went to have lunch together.

Is it any wonder that my little son feels so secure and nourished in this school environment?

 

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Asher’s Fifth Birthday

5 Today: Nature Walk

Asher is 5! We have been celebrating in simple and joyful ways for several days now. This is how we celebrated his special day at home. Since it was a Tuesday and a school day, we had our normal rhythms to fit in, also.

Birthday Breakfast Table

“Is I’m 5?” was the first thing we heard that morning. Daddy told him he was a big boy and Asher said, “No. I’m a medium boy.” Very well, then. Our breakfast table had a special place setting for Asher, flowers, rainbows, our Family Candle, and a beautiful bell. In our house, the birthday boy gets to wear his Birthday Crown and ring the bell as loud as he likes on his birthday morning. Asher got to open one gift, his mama-made fleece dragon mittens and hat.

5 Today: Nature Walk

After school, I picked him up and we went for a nature walk with Solstice the dog. We walked to the huge fallen oak tree that we call the Bee Tree because it has an active beehive way up high. You can see the bees going in and out. It’s a magical place with woods all around and the bike trail. Walking Solstice is not nearly as easy as walking with 5-year-old Asher.

Waldorf Birthday Cake

In the afternoon, we snuggled and he napped, we picked up Lucas from school, and then the boys played outside. Asher rode on Lucas’s old bike—we put the training wheels on it just the other day. Mama baked a cake using the Waldorf Birthday Cake recipe. Yum! It’s made with honey and yogurt—dense and moist. When Daddy came home, he made Asher’s requested dinner of stir fry with Chinese noodles.

Birthday Cake for Asher, Rainbow Candles

Cake!

And then we had cake!

Birthday Boy

I’m pretty sure he felt special.

Opening Miss Rumphius Book

The kids got ready for bed, then Asher opened his birthday gifts—two story books (Miss Rumphius and Runya, the Fire Fairy) …

They Agree on LEGO

… and a LEGO idea book. And a build-your-own kaleidoscope kit and sun print paper.

Asher Opening His Crayon Holder

He opened his new Stockmar crayons and the crayon holder I made him …

Alphabet Stones Birthday Gift

… and the alphabet stones, which we played with a bit.

Alphabet Stones Birthday Gift

(I kind of love these. They are nice to touch.)

Lucas Gave Asher His Bike

And the marvelous evening culminated in this: Lucas GAVE Asher his old bike. Lucas washed it and polished it nicely and tied a big bow on it. Now Asher has a big-boy bike to ride outside with brother! What a perfect, thoughtful gift. Lucas got to be the hero. And that suits us just fine.

 

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Handmade Birthday Gifts for Asher

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

Today is my baby boy’s fifth birthday. I am over the moon with excitement for him. I live for this stuff, I think. Anyway, over the last several days, I’ve been scrambling to make some gifts for him.

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

I made these alphabet stones for him using rocks from my yard and my paints. I got this idea from a photo I saw on Pinterest, which I believe is originally from this blog. I am grateful for the fun idea. Asher is five, so I don’t know how or if he will connect with these letters yet, but even if he doesn’t, they are still fun to hold and look at. I think manipulating them to make short words will be fun, and that’s all that matters at this age.

Mama-made Alphabet Stones

Each stone has its lowercase letter on the other side.

Mama-made Dragon Hat

Thanks to a lot of help from my mother and her nifty, first-class serger, I made this fleece dragon hat and a matching pair of mittens. I’ve never done anything like this before and the mittens in particular were challenging for me. But a more accomplished sewist (“sewer” just doesn’t look that great even though it’s correct, does it?) would have an easy time of it, I think. I just traced Asher’s hands and made a paper pattern, adding a good 1/2 inch for the seem. I also made the wrist portion wider to ensure that he could get his hand into the mittens. Fortunately, fleece is slightly stretchy and it’s pretty dreamy to sew because it doesn’t fray, so you don’t have to be as nitpicky as with other fabrics. BUT—like I said, we serged these! And my goodness, what a dream of a machine that is! This was the very first time my mama let me touch her serger. (Machines and I don’t always see eye to eye.)

Mama-made Dragon Hat and Mittens

OK, the back of the mittens look best. Anyway, he went off to school this morning wearing them!

Crayon Holder for Asher's 5th Birthday

And finally, here is a crayon holder I made for his brand-new birthday block crayons. We have block crayons in this house, but technically they belong to Lucas. I thought Asher might like to have his own and a special place to keep them safe. (I don’t know if he WILL keep them safe, but with the crayon holder’s pockets he COULD.)

Crayon Holder for Asher's 5th Birthday

This item has 22 wee pockets, with six that are empty now so he could add to it later. And to be honest, I still have to sew a ribbon tie on one end of the crayon holder before I can wrap this up. So, I’d better go do that.

Today is for writing, wrapping, baking a cake, and baking a class set of muffins for tomorrow’s Kindergarten celebration. Tonight we’ll have a small family celebration with Asher’s choice of dinners—Daddy’s stir fry with Chinese noodles.

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Ian’s Birthday Hike

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These photos are glorious shots taken my my dear friend Tate at Ian’s 40th birthday hike—at the beginning of last month. I’m grateful to Tate for taking them and letting me share them here.

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Acorn led us on a local hike to Lake Natomas, created by the Nimbus Dam along the American River. He haunts this area a lot and knows where to find the Indian grinding rocks and sunbathing turtles.

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It was a warm October day and both the kids and Suki the dog enjoyed brief splashes in the water.

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Several friends were able to join us and it was a fun way to spend the day. It felt great to get outside and picnic together.

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Sun hats for everyone!

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Any day the kids get to wear their camelbaks is a good one in their view.

 

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If I forgot to say it before, many thanks to those that came to celebrate Ian’s birthday with us. We had an epic weekend of fun and friends.

Painting

Oil Painting in Progress

I had my “final” painting class on August 23. We worked on a still life of watermelon on a table draped with black velvet fabric. I tell you, painting black velvet was really tricky for me. Is it green-black? Purple-black? Mixing blacks from transparent ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and thalo green was quite remarkable. I painted a small 8- by 10-inch canvas that night.

Third Oil Painting

A few days later, while the paints on my palette were still wet, I finished it at home. I elected to work on that black velvet some more—it was looking wimpy—and to dull the green in the rind of one section of melon a bit more. Here’s a photo of the finished, still-wet painting. Such a simple, one-object subject, and yet it presented many challenges. It felt perfectly marvelous to use all those reds!

Above, I said “‘final’ class.” I have to enroll in another session because I’m not done with this yet. I’ve taken a haitus of a couple of weeks now and I and really miss it. I’m hoping to return to class next Tuesday.

To all of my darling friends who made it financially possible and shoved me into this dream of mine (because I wouldn’t go there otherwise), thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ll never forget this birthday present.

Birthday Beach Camping

I’m catching up from last month! I guess life has been pretty busy, and pretty good lately.

Old Family Tent "DAD" by Lucas

We went camping for my birthday in May to Wright’s Beach, which is where my family always went for vacation when I was a kid. I love this beach with my whole heart.

Lookout over Wright's Beach

We spent two chilly nights there in Ian’s old family tent. We wandered on the beach, collected small seashells and pebbles, flew kites, and read books. Lucas did a lot of whittling with his new pocket knife, making arrows and spears and assorted sharp and pointy items. The boys bickered a lot, and unfortunately this beach isn’t terribly safe for playing chase with the waves. There are signs posted everywhere saying how Wright’s Beach is one of the deadliest beaches in California. Funny, I don’t remember that tidbit from my childhood, and while I do remember gettting knocked about by the waves, my brother and I always survived. When the ranger came around in her truck to tell us under no circumstances should we allow the boys to touch the water, well, we decided to play by the rules. Still, we had plenty of fun and Daddy’s delicious grilled steak, plus s’mores!

My Favorite Beach Learning How to Light a Fire

Wright's Beach

My Boys

The next day we packed up early and drove five minutes down the coast to Duncan’s Cove, where the beach was more sheltered and the wind wasn’t so bad. We explored and found lots of wildflowers. Lucas found a great rock to jump from onto the sand below. It was quite a drop!

Leaping Off

Happy When Moving

Here we did let Lucas get his feet wet. Asher didn’t let the waves get anywhere near him before he began running for the dry sand.

My Little Trekker

It was cold and windy up on the bluff. The views were amazing and so were the flowers. Asher enjoyed wearing his camelbak.

Seagulls

We picnicked on Portuguese Beach before beginning our drive home. A beach picnic with beautiful seagulls, sandwiches, champagne, and peach pie is tops in my book!

Asher's Wistle

Lucas at Lucas Wharf

This is one of the fun things about Bodega Bay. The Lucas Warf sign photo.

Enjoy Life!

We stopped at the candy and kites store. I enjoy all the flags and spinning things. Ian says I am allowed to be an old woman with flags someday, as long as we make them ourselves.

It was a great weekend and I’m glad I got to show my children this place that’s so special to me. Even if we never go there again, it was delightful to have all those fond childhood memories come flooding back.

And after we came home, I had some fun playing with my seagull photos. Tee hee!

Seagulls High Drama

 

9th Birthday Party

Balloon Fight Madness

Lucas’s first-ever sleepover birthday party started with an epic balloon fight.

Balloon Fight Madness

Six 9-year-olds and a determined-to-keep-up 4-year-old is a what you might call a cacophany of boys. The dozen balloons lasted almost 8 minutes.

Birthday Boy

The theme— “No theme, Mom! Just a sleepover.” The cake— “No cake, Mom! I want a homemade apple pie.”

Dinner Shenanigans

There were antics of all sorts. There was talk of how girls trying to kiss you is the grossest thing ever. There was plenty of belching words. There were stick fights and spy-on-the-parents games. After they inhaled the watermelon, there was a rind fight.

Watching Mythbusters

There were two episodes of “Mythbusters,” at the special request of the birthday boy, with extra explosions.

Opening Gifts

Lucas received marvelous gifts, like a mosaic stepping stone kit, a solar cooker, a Hex Bug, paintbrushes, LEGO, and more.

Lucas Birthday Boy

He greatly enjoyed being the star of the show for a full evening, night, and morning. The boys stayed awake talking and laughing until about midnight, before they finally all fell asleep.

Opening Birthday Presents

After the guests left on May 1, we spent some time with just the four of us. We gave Lucas our gifts, such as a solar kit, books, a basketball, wool roving and needle-felting tools, extreme dot-to-dot and puzzle books, North American animal fact cards—just the sort of things a 9-year-old needs.

6-in-1 Solar Kit

39 Clues, Book 1 The Name of this Book is Secret

But best of all—most desired of all possible birthday gifts—was this:

Pocket Knife!

Whittling Together

And thus he spent much of the day whittling. We were all a bit worn out from the festivities of the night before and so we elected not to attend the May Day festival at Lucas’s Waldorf school. (The third grade had no part to play in the festival this year, and so we left the choice up to Lucas. He wanted to whittle.)

Later that evening, we went to Grandma’s and Papa’s house for dinner. We enjoyed tacos and salad and birthday brownies for dessert. The boys wanted to go swimming—on May Day! And although it was not exactly warm, well—it was his birthday. May Day is traditionally the “first day of summer.”

Swimming on May 1

The next day, which was a day off from school, Lucas got to visit with his other grandmother and his auntie. He came home with a set of woodcarving tools and more LEGO. Bliss!

It’s two weeks later now, and I can tell Lucas is supremely happy to be 9, and is really enjoying all his gifts. He has finally (and briefly) caught up to the age of his classmates, some of whom are soon to turn 10.

Birthday Letter to Lucas

Lucas

April 29, 2011

Dear Lucas,

It’s practically the eve of your 9th birthday. Tomorrow we will spend much of the day cleaning our home, baking, and decorating to get ready for your birthday party—your first-ever slumber party.  It will be a busy day, and not all fun stuff. Together we will succeed in making the space ready for five of your dear friends.

This year, you have asked for a homemade apple pie instead of a birthday cake. I am surprised by this; somehow it seems too much like me and my preferences for it to be your wish. So often I see our differences and dissimilarities most clearly. But there are moments when I see myself in you, like when you get nervous before a big event and begin to wish you could be elsewhere, or like when you pore over a new book, exploring it with your hands and running its cover against your cheek, or like when you express your outrage when someone acts in a way that hurts you, accidentally or not. All of these characteristics in you remind me of myself.

Lucas Dear

I have seen you grow so much this year it boggles my mind. (I suppose I say that in every birthday letter I write to you. It is always true.) In the last year, I have seen you learn how to read music (both treble clef and base). I have listened with eager ears as you have learned to play songs on our piano, sometimes struggling, sometimes leaping forward in great ah-ha moments of inspiration. Your fingers are at home on the keys; your ear is better than mine ever was, and you seem to memorize songs after hearing them only a few times. This is both a tremendous asset, and also a liability because you are capable of skating along at times, not having to pay attention to the notes on the page. But I understand. It’s a foreign written language, and it’s so much easier for you just to remember all the sounds. You are getting better at paying attention and focusing on the music. You don’t like to work at it, and yet, when you master the task, it’s clear that you feel very proud of yourself. You have tackled some tough songs this year, including one called “Hogwarts March,” from a Harry Potter movie. I am pleased to see you working hard at piano—I mean, of course I want it to be enjoyable for you. I also want you to learn how to go after something you want, try and try and try, and earn your reward. You have been playing for a year now. You have said at times you want to quit, but then you seem to buckle down and achieve the next goal, which fills you up and readies you for more. I’m not inclined to let you quit because you’re good at it.

Lucas, Almost 9

Another skill that seems to have ballooned is your reading. This gives your father and me so much joy we’re filled to bursting. You are unlocking the greatest thing ever, word by word, book by book, and you seem to know it. You say, “I’d rather read the book first before I see the movie.” You and your school friends discuss books! You come home with requests because so-and-so said such-and-such book was the greatest book ever. You know what ragged right means. You want books because they’re funny, or a bit creepy, or mysterious, or clever, or long and with sequels. And I am in heaven.

Sick Day Reading This Moment: Music-Making

Still, I hold back a bit. I don’t push books on you because my showing too much enthusiasm for a story can ruin it. Secretly, I buy books for you all the time, and store them so that at the perfect moment I can give you one as a special gift, or just a now-you’re-ready-for-this surprise. It makes me feel like Santa Claus, and each time you unwrap one or I pull one off the top shelf, I hold my breath. Will you feel the same draw, the same magic as I do? I long to share this feeling with you, to have this one thing at least tie us together in companionship our whole lives. But even more fervently I wish that you will fall in love again and again with reading.

Reading is a big part of third grade, as are spelling tests. You have been bringing fourteen spelling words home to study most weeks this year. When we all remember to work on them together, you tend to ace the quizzes. I’m finding it’s surprisingly tricky to encourage you to care about whether you do well. Often you do, so that’s great. But not always. So we are all learning to negotiate new concepts of expectation. We parents are learning how to negotiate new concepts of parenting. Because you go to Waldorf school, you haven’t been struggling with homework for years already, for which I am grateful. We are not in the habit of having to work on school tasks at home. See? The spelling words are our mutual training ground. Not only do you have to get into the habit of doing schoolwork, but we have to get into the habit of helping you develop good habits! (That teacher of yours is quite clever.) I admit we have a ways to go in this area. Next year, you will have homework to do regularly.

***

May 1, 2011

Lucas Painting Jumping

You remain, as ever, exceptionally creative. Perhaps the best part of this characteristic is that you aren’t afraid of it. You go with your creative impulses without hesitation. I see this in your engineering of objects, in your drawings and paintings, in your imaginative play. There is nothing too big, too hard, or too wild for you. You also seem to seek out the different path. The Moken Kabong shelter project was a good example. You were tasked to build a human shelter model based the shelter of a genuine people. You were the only child in the class to build a boat shelter. While belonging is important to you, you take your individuality seriously. I really like that about you.

You love dragons and ninjas, secret agents and explorers. You love science perhaps more than anything. You want to be a Mythbuster or a chemist or a doctor when you grow up. Something sciency, no doubt. Sometimes you say you want to be a veterinarian.

You are fond of games now, especially complex ones with many rules. You are becoming a good chess player, playing sometimes with adults. I need to remember that you need opportunities to play games. Since gaming isn’t my favorite way of spending time, I need to hook you up with others who do enjoy games. Fortunately, we have a lot of friends who enjoy such things. And your dad is a great sport about this stuff; he’s always ready for a game of chess or whatever.

Dear Lucas

You invent plenty of games, too, creating cards with creatures that have magical and elemental powers. You talk of hit points, damage, spells, and +4 strength, +1 armor. The games are not confined to paper, though, for your creatures ride on your shoulders and you can fling them into battle, with sound effects and physical confrontation. Asher is a willing participant in all your fantasy worlds. Since you answer his every question about the game with complete confidence, he is content to play by your rules most of the time. Just don’t tell him he has lost all of his powers! On a recent car ride, you and Asher played a verbal quest game like Dungeons and Dragons—I think you called it Tentacle—where you were the GM and Asher had to make choices in his quest. Sometimes his choice was wise and he was rewarded by leveling up. Other times he was penalized, like when he fought and killed a good luck dragon. I suppose you have played this with your friends at school, but I was amazed at how engrossed the two of you became in the game. You were both thinking on your feet, so to speak, and it was awesome.

You (perhaps with friends) have invented a martial art, formerly called Twidlywinkies but recently redubbed “Hai-ya!” The first iteration of this martial art has been around a year or two, but you’ve recently been training your brother in Hai-ya. You are taking him through the ranks, awarding him new belt colors (playsilks) when he does well. Rainbow belt is the highest achievement, after black belt. There are five styles of Hai-ya, from what I’ve gathered: Dragon, Crane, Tiger, Panda, and Snake, which you conveniently swiped from the Kung Fu Panda movie. You say you are training several school friends, too. You would dearly like to take martial arts classes, and we may be coming to that sometime this year. The discipline you would learn in such a class would do you good, I think.

Lucas in the Tree

Lucas on the Monkey Bars

You enjoy shooting hoops, walking on your stilts, and riding your scooter and your bike. We have been letting you ride around the neighborhood alone a bit. Recently you rode off to the local park for a solo adventure. You love to climb trees and every time we go to pick up Asher from preschool, you shimmy up Ms. Pati’s grapefruit tree. Daddy has seen you climbing up our redwoods in our backyard, which are a bit too little still, I think. Now you can do the monkey bars! (You tried for a long time without success, so this is a big accomplishment.) So far, you aren’t interested in playing organized sports. You lament about not having enough free time, though your time is mostly your own. Filling it with sports practice I think would be odious to you. I wonder if and when you will ask for this, and if it’s our fault that you show so little interest in sports. Have we raised you to be just like us?

Overall, I have to say this last year has been much easier than previous ones. You are not as challenging as you used to be, or perhaps I should say, you aren’t challenging as much of the time. You seem in some ways less spiky than before, and are quick to show affection. You give compliments pretty freely, which is a delight. You often tell me and Dad that we are “the best parents ever.” Usually, when we are frustrated with you, it is because you are frustrated with your brother and are fighting with him. You and Asher provoke each other like crazy. You react to him as if every little thing was the most horrific offense, which naturally feeds the fire. You give him such delicious rewards for bugging you, so he does it as often as possible. We are trying to teach you to disengage, walk away, and ignore it when Asher needles you. I fear your choleric personality is a big obstacle. But siblings fight. Brothers fight. And Asher now is a force to be reckoned with.

Miners' Lettuce Boys

But I have to also say how much love and devotion I see in your relationship with your brother. Asher looks to you for leadership, for courage, and for a role model. He would like to do everything you do and tries hard. You two are thick as thieves, as they say, completely intertwined with one another. You are best friends and worst enemies, as the cliché goes. You hate to be apart from one another, long to be together, and yet when you are, there is a maddening pattern of good, beneficial play and then angry bashing. We roller-coaster through our days like this and it drives us bananas. You are like powerful magnets, drawn together and compelled to play out dramatic hurts, betrayals, forgiveness, and camaraderie again and again, from dawn until sleep. It is difficult to live with, but I think it’s good relationship training. You are learning trust, how to negotiate, what consequences come from acting badly toward someone, how to forgive and be forgiven.

Goofy Boys Enjoying Mama's Smoothies of Love

Sometimes you ask to have your own room again, and I feel bad that I took over your old bedroom for my office. I know sometimes you would really like to get away from Asher and have some private space. You are coping as best you can: You have claimed three personal “desks” in the house as your private places. You and Asher still sleep together sometimes, though, so it cannot be so bad.

Spoony

A few months ago, you went through a rough patch and were feeling quite depressed and maudlin. You would sometimes get upset and say things like, “I shouldn’t even exist. I don’t deserve to live.” We tried hard to hold you safe and let you feel all your feelings. This “9-year change” business is hard, and dramatic. You seem to need us to acknowledge your pain, but also to act confidently through it. We don’t spend much time trying to convince you to feel differently, for that way is useless and also gives too much attention to the theatrics. We just hold the space in which you can (safely) suffer and try to show you that the suffering is temporary and that we love you despite it. I don’t know what more is in store for us in this changing stage. You’ve just turned 9, so there may be more pitfalls to negotiate this year. But no matter: We love you always.

Geologist

I admire the way you make friends, Lucas, and I must say, it seems to me you have made some good ones. Your school buddies are great kids, and you get along well even with those classmates who aren’t your best friends. You are especially good in one-on-one situations to my eye. I’m proud that you are considerate, that you remember your manners, and that you make friends with adults as easily as you make friends with kids. You are warm and open, eager to share your experiences and eager to learn from others. I am proud that my friends like having you along, that they tell me what a fun, clever, ingenious kid you are.

***

May 2, 2011

Nine

The party is done now. It was a rollicking good time; “best birthday party ever,” you said. There were balloon fights and stick fights and spy-on-the-parents secret agent games. We watched “Mythbusters,” we ate Daddy’s marvelous hamburgers and you and your friends devoured a whole watermelon in mere minutes.  You and your buddies stayed awake until midnight.

We were all pretty wiped out by the next day, your actual birthday, so we spent a kind of low-key day, enjoying each other’s company, and opening presents from me, Dad, and Asher. You are thrilled that we gave you your own, first pocket knife and have kept it with you every waking hour since then. We expect every stick within a two-block radius to be whittled by you in the coming months. You have already carved for yourself  and your brother new wands, with which to have magical duels. Daddy was certain that you are ready for this; it’s a big responsibility to own and use a knife. We trust that you will take it seriously, and not use it recklessly.

Pocket Knife!

We spent the evening of your birthday at Papa and Grandma Syd’s house. You begged to go swimming—the water was 62 degrees—and we let you. You proudly showed Papa your new pocket knife and he admired it. At the moment you’re enjoying time with VoVo and Aunt Kellie and you’re probably receiving more gifts.

There is no question about it, Lucas. You are beloved. Lucas, you are such a mysterious treasure to me and your dad, and every moment we find ourselves having to stretch and grow alongside you, just to keep up. You are delightful and warm, courageous and sensitive, and oh-so smart. You are our shining sun, our inspiration, and our initiator, for without you we wouldn’t be who we are today. We love you for everything that you are and everything that you are becoming. Happy birthday, my dearest light.

Love,

Mama

Needle-Felted Tapestries by Lucas

Lucas's Needle-Felted Picture: Butterfly

Here are two needle-felted tapestries that Lucas recently made to give as gifts. The above tapestry was given to Aunt Kellie for her birthday. These were both wholly conceived and executed by my darling almost-9-year-old. Both are about six inches in diameter.

Lucas's Needle-Felted Picture: Fish

This one of tropical fish is a belated birthday gift for another family member. We still have to give it, though, so I won’t say who the recipient will be.

I’ve been crafting a bit myself in fits and spurts, but I’m not ready to show my creations yet. I also have a big fat book edit going on now and it’s eating up my time. I am grateful for my glorious weekend spent among friends; I am trying hard to let it buoy me up this week.

I don’t have many words right now. I’m shocked and grieving for the people of Japan, and I wish I had resources to send.

Doctors Without Borders is taking donations here.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations here.

 

Handmade Wooden Toys

Two Girls

Ian and I made some wooden toys for Asher for his birthday. We learned a lot last December when we made his wooden dragon, knight, and horse, and his rainbow gnomes—not the least of which is that sanding wooden toys takes forever. We wanted to practice these new toy-making skills some more, so we made Asher two girls, an older boy, a pig, a goose, and a gnome cave. We ran out of time and didn’t finish goose woman and the other older boy we cut out. But they’ll be along someday.

Older Boy, Goose, and Pig

I drew these figures after looking at some old illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright that were recently republished in a Barnes and Noble collection of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. I liked their simplicity and their old-fashioned clothing (kerchiefs and knickers and so on). Ian did a marvelous job with the scroll saw, which is the part that scares me not a little.

Gnome Cave and Gnomes

The gnomes in this photo were made last month, but the stacking cave pieces are new. They can be fitted together or separated out to form a gnome scene.

Now, the truth is, I don’t know if Asher will ever play with these items. Often plastic gifts grab a child’s attention quicker, and Asher got some of those for his birthday. For the most part, he prefers to play pretend and transform himself into someone new, whether human or animal. He doesn’t often sit and play with items the way they are intended by adults to be played with. A screwdriver toy becomes a sword, or a pen, or a magic wand. A firefighter’s helmet becomes a bowl or an astronaut’s gear. A stethoscope becomes a communication device or an air tube.

I will just sit back and see what he does with these wooden toys, just as I do with everything else, and be proud that we made them from scratch. They will be for him whatever he needs or wants them to be. And if nothing else, and if I’m very lucky, maybe someday I’ll see them in the hands of my grandchild.

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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.

    © 2003–2017 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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