11 Favorite Easter/Ostara Children’s Books

Tasha Tudor bunnies

     —Tasha Tudor

We have a wide library of Easter and Ostara-themed children’s books around here. It might be because the Easter Bunny usually brings one for my boys. These are our favorites. We go for the non-religious, nature-oriented titles, so if you’re looking for the resurrection story, you’ll need to find a different list. The age recommendations listed here are my own suggestions.

Our newest favorite is Eggs for the Hunting, by Reg Down. We have several of Down’s books and their familiar woodland characters and sweet simplicity make them so charming. Comforting, everyday rhythms of nature and the seasons are mixed in with just the right amount of magic and wonder of the spirit in all things. Featuring darling Tiptoes Lightly (a fairy) and two plucky gnomes (Pine Cone and Pepper Pot), these books never fail to leave us giggling. Eggs for the Hunting is what we’re reading at bedtime now, and even my almost-10-year-old is captivated by it.

The Golden Egg Book is a classic that every kid should get to read at least once. The simple story is by Margaret Wise Brown and the luscious illustrations are by Leondard Weisgard. It was originally published in 1947. This book is wonderful for the 0 to 6 set.

bunny and duck

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward (pictures by Margorie Flack) is widely considered to be one of the first feminist children’s books. It was published in 1939. I had this book as a child and I loved it. (The picture below was captivating to small me.) The little brown girl bunny wants to grow up to be an Easter Bunny, but before long she’s a mother. They say a mommy bunny can’t possibly do the job of the Easter Bunny, but in fact, she is amply qualified: for she is kind, clever, wise, swift—she has to be to raise her 21 bunny children! (I would say ages 4 to 10; this one is fairly long.)

The Country Bunny and the Gold Shoes

The Bunny Who Found Easter is by Charlotte Zolotow and was originally published in 1959. In this story, a bunny wants to be with other bunnies. An owl tells him that there are always lots of rabbits at Easter, so the bunny goes looking for Easter. He searches through summer, fall, and winter without finding any other bunnies. But in spring, he finds a sweet friend and he’s so happy to know her, he forgets about Easter. Soon enough, by Easter, there are lots of rabbits! He learns that Easter is not a place after all, but a time when everything lovely begins once again. (Ages 0 to 6.)

The Egg Tree (Katherine Milhous, 1950) is a story about a family celebrating Easter with an egg hunt. In the attic, a girl finds a box with gorgeous decorated eggs inside. Grandma had forgotten they were there. They are eggs she decorated when she was a girl and she shows the grandchildren how to decorated them in traditional designs. Then she introduces them to the Egg Tree, which is trimmed with beautifully decorated eggs and so lovely that people come from far and wide to see it. It becomes their Easter tradition. (Ages 4 to 8.)

From The Egg Tree

From The Easter Egg
The Easter Egg by Jan Brett is the newest title on my list of rather classic Easter stories. Brett’s illustrations never fail to amaze. They are complex, intricate, and beautiful. There is a competition among the rabbits to create the most beautiful Easter egg. The winner of the competition has the honor of helping the Easter Rabbit hide the eggs for the children. Little Hoppi is participating in the competition for the first time. He finds deciding how to decorate his egg is harder than he thought. When Mother Robin’s egg accidentally falls from the nest, Hoppi takes care of it until it hatches. (Ages 4 to 8.)

From The Easter Egg

A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor was published in 1941 and begins, “You can never tell what might happen on Easter.” It describes how you know that Easter is coming: a new dress from mama and hot cross buns on Good Friday. Then you ask the chickens to lay lots of eggs. The night before Easter, good children will dream the loveliest dreams, such as riding on the back of a fawn who gallops through the woodlands and shows you rabbits, lambs, and Easter ducklings swimming among the lily pads. Tudor’s illustrations are endlessly charming and this is the perfect Easter book for very young children.

lambs

By Sybille Olfers, The Story of the Root Children (1906) is a favorite. Gentle watercolor paintings grace this sweet tale of how Mother Earth must wake the Root Children so they may perform their care-taking duties, such as washing the beetles and bumble bees. Then they can dress in fine clothes and go to the surface, to play in the woods and meadows until autumn comes again. (Ages 0 to 6.)

root children 3

While the spring equinox was last month, this book, The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth by Ellen Jackson, is worth a look. It tells of spring celebrations in many cultures and throughout history, reminding us that the many symbols and traditions we still follow have roots in the past. The book ends with a retelling of the myth of the goddess Ostara and how the Easter hare came to be associated with eggs. (Ages 4 to 10.)

And here are two others that we’ve checked out from our library, but don’t own. I fully recommend these as well.

Rachenka’s Eggs is the story of old Babushka who saves a goose and nurses her back to health. The goose accidentally knocks over the old woman’s paint pots, which she uses to create beautiful Ukrainian Easter eggs. The eggs throughout Patricia Paola’s book are gorgeous and feature traditional designs. The goose begins to lay beautiful, decorated eggs, and eventually returns to the wild, but not before leaving behind an egg that hatches into a gosling to be Babushka’s companion. (Ages 4 to 10.)

The Birds’ Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story is another delight. This folktale retold by Eric Kimmel is lovely. A young girl inspires a whole village to save a flock of golden birds trapped by a sudden, fierce snowstorm. The birds shelter in the church over the winter and are released in the spring, even though the villagers have come to love them dearly. At Easter time, the birds return, leaving hundreds of gloriously decorated Easter eggs in the grasses. This book features pysanky-inspired illustrations by Katya Krenina. (Ages 4 to 10.)

 

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Dear Asher: Fifth Birthday Letter

{This letter was started on January 31, worked on again February 24, and finished today, February 28.}

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Dear Asher,

Happy birthday, my love! You are 5-years-old! You are so very excited to be 5 now. Every day for the last week I had to tell you how many sleeps until your birthday.

So let me paint a little picture about you and your life right now. You are the most precocious child, always chatting and singing through nearly every moment. You tell wonderful and hair-raising stories to anyone who will listen, especially about Earthland and your adventures there, your pet dragons of various breeds, the battles you engage in to save the world, and your wife Jennifer, who is having a baby with you. (This development is very recent.) The baby is a boy and his name is Morlassus. I hope to hear more about Jennifer and Morlassus.

You are very much at home in the Red Rose Kindergarten at our Waldorf school. Your teachers both adore you and you seem rather popular. Yesterday you told me that there are two girls who are in love with you, but since you were being discreet, you only told me the first sound of their names. What a gentleman you are. Lucas promptly guessed the girls’ names, and you eagerly confirmed he was right.  It seems that you have many friends that you run around with on the playground. I hear a lot about Elijah, Lilly, Enzo, Landon, and of course, Noah, and many others. It’s fun to watch your world expanding to include new people. When I’ve had the privilege of watching your class during circle time, I’ve been delighted to see that you enjoy the songs and movements so much. You pay attention and participate with joy. You love to clown with your buddies.

Asher and N

I hear more about battling from you than I remember hearing from your brother when he was your age. I don’t know if that’s part of being a younger sibling, for your interests tend toward the more mature things your brother likes.

At home, you and Lucas spend a lot of your free time together. Usually you get along pretty well, although now that you are older, the two of you fight more often. When you do, there’s all kind of shouting and often tears. I think you work very hard to get your point across and, in the long run, I think this is good for you. You stick up for yourself well; you push back when he’s trying to control or manipulate you. You are possessive of your things and sometimes don’t like being told how to play with them, which Lucas often does. At other times, you are happy to let him lead your games and imagination play. When the two of you work together, and allow each other space to create, you can be so agreeable and amazing—magical things happen in your minds. That part is fun to watch quietly, out of the corner of my eye so you don’t catch me. Together you are making up your own language, which as far as I can tell involves both of you making up words and Lucas correcting yours. You both enjoy hatching and training creatures and playing with your pet dragons.

~~~~

February 24

Mama-made Dragon Hat

Asher, I can’t believe how much time has passed since your birthday. Here it is almost a month later and I still haven’t finished this letter. I’ll continue to try to paint a picture of who you are now.

Face Paint Crayons: Dragon Boy

At 5, you are formidable. You are confident and brave. You seem to know what you want and what you’re about most of the time. Although you often happily follow in your brother’s footsteps, you also sometimes pursue your own path with a kind of determination and certainty that I deeply admire.

You talk constantly. When you’re not talking, you are singing or jibber-jabbering in a steady stream-of-consciousness narrative.  I love to hear you singing, and I think you have a beautiful voice. Sometimes you and Lucas will sing together; he takes the low parts and you take the high and you weave your music together in a spontaneous and exciting way. You seem to have an instinct for it. I confess I sometimes find it hard to think in the midst of all your music-making. But I know you are processing your world, changing it through the power of your words, figuring out how things work, and joyfully plucking from it all the wacky humor and opportunities for fun as possible.

You also tell lots of stories. You enjoy tricking people, so you now tell stories that aren’t true in the hopes that people will believe you and you can have a giggle. And sometimes, I think you believe your stories yourself. The line between reality and fantasy is, well, rarely observed and certainly never hard and fast. You have been known to doorbell ditch, both from the outside and the inside of the house, by which I mean that you will knock on a hard surface until an adult goes to answer the door, only to find no one there.

Light Saber Battle

For fun, you love to play with LEGOs and building spaceships is your specialty. You also enjoy blocks, but choose them less frequently nowadays. Once in a while you pick up a stuffed animal or your little Waldorf house elf Miko and play and play. When Lucas is home, you two enjoy “fighting” or “training” in martial arts. Lucas has convinced you that he is in fact a martial arts ninja master, and you are his willing and obedient student. He’s even got you calling him Master within the context of your game. Sometimes this play is relaxed and groovy, and you both enjoy it a lot. Other times, the sparring can lead to hurts. You were both given lightsabers for Christmas, and you love to battle each other in the evening, when the lightsabers glow beautifully in the darkness. Basically, you and Lucas are best friends and brothers, which is something special, I think—you compete, fight, and play with each other; you stick up for and cover for each other; and you learn from each other constantly. I often watch with wonder at how you interact, knowing that you’re both learning so much and gaining so much by being brothers. It’s marvelous.

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We’re at the cabin in Tahoe for a family vacation now. Today, I watched you playing in the snow with great vigor and enthusiasm—never mind that it’s been two years since we came to play in the snow. You rambled through the woods near the cabin, enjoying your freedom and time to explore. You threw snowballs at your brother and didn’t mind when you got hit yourself. You never got too cold or out of sorts. I love to let you and your brother roam. Opportunities to do so safely are fewer than I would wish. To see you tromping through the woods, following your nose or the fairies or whatever it is that pulls you onward is a wonderful thing.

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~~~~

February 28

Blade and Shortbow

Your latest obsession is Dungeons and Dragons. You now talk about it constantly. We probably should have held off on this for a few years, but as your brother is the perfect age for this kind of role playing and you absolutely will not be left out, we have compromised. Daddy is a wonderful DM. He has painted miniatures for your characters according to your descriptions of them and he is creating quests for you and Lucas that are good for you, requiring that your characters work together as friends and companions. I like this, for it’s a way of exercising your imaginations in cooperative ways instead of competitive ones. Once, many years ago, a friend told me how to raise brothers, for he himself was raising two boys in a way quite opposite how his own parents raised him and his brother. He said, “You must find ways to make your boys work together, even if that means they strive against you, the parent, as a team. Avoid all situations where your boys are striving against each other. That is how to foster brotherhood and closeness in your sons.” I’ll never forget that, and my heart tells me he is right.

Anyway, you are currently playing D&D as a “dorf” named Shortbow, which may be the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. You are beardless, because you don’t care for beards, and you are an adult. Not a child. Not a teenager. You like to inject all sorts of things into the story Daddy is telling during a game.

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You have great new skills now. You can snap your fingers. You can throw a mean snowball. You recently braved the two-wheel bike (with training wheels) and Lucas gave you his old bike for your birthday. You ride it often on our street now, while Lucas rides his bike or his scooter. You seem to like the speed you can achieve now. You also can hop on one foot quite a distance and you can count pretty well up to 30, missing a few numbers along the way. Same with your alphabet, but we’re not worrying about that. I think it is rather funny that your interest in letters has come mainly from the kids on the playground. (Take that, Doubters. Waldorf kids not pushed will learn their letters and numbers in their own time, probably in Kindergarten.) And of course, you pay attention to your brother writing and practicing his spelling words. One of my favorite sights is seeing you both absorbed in a book or writing away in your own blank notebooks. A few days ago you wrote an entire page of “spells” in crisp, neat, blocky, made-up scribble letters. I love them.

I can go on and on, of course, for you are endlessly fascinating to me. I love you completely and I’m so proud of you.

Love,

Mama

 

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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Top 10 Winter Books for Children

The Story of the Snow Children

Here are our Top 10 Winter Books for Children. These are our tried-and-true, beloved “read-it-again” books. Many are inexpensive paperbacks, and you might even find some at your local library or used bookstore. I needn’t rank them, I think. If you do delve into any of these with your children, please comment here and tell me what you think. Also, please tell me if you have other favorite winter books to share!

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. You probably read it when you were a child. Have you seen this book lately? The simple text beautifully describes a sweet day of snow play and all of the experiences of snowy weather that would appeal to young children. The boy, Peter, pays attention to his footprints, finds a just-right stick, makes snow angels, pretends, and tries to keep a snowball in his pocket. When he comes inside, his mama helps him take off his wet socks. Sound familiar?

Snow by Cynthia Rylant gently reminds us that playing outside among the drifts and snowflakes and then being snug and warm at home are the great gifts of snow. Others are angels, new friends, and the reminder that only memories last forever. “It will say that it is all right to be happy.” I like books that say that we can be happy in simple things, such as tumbling down a hill or taking a walk to see how beautiful the world is. Underneath all this lovely snow, the flowers are sleeping and the soft green gardens wait.

Snow

When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan answers some very good questions about how birds and animals adapt to winter’s cold temperatures. Chances are good that your children have asked these exact questions of you at some time. The language is lyrical and rhyming. A mommy, daddy, and child explore nature together to find out what happens “when winter comes and the cold winds blow.” I feel this book models how you can enjoy nature outdoors even when it’s cold and dark in winter.

This one we don’t own, but we are greatly enjoying our library copy. Animals in Winter, by Henrietta Bancroft and Richard G. Van Gelder, explains in simple language what the birds, butterflies, bats, woodchuck, pikas, squirrels, mice, deer, rabbits, and foxes do to survive the cold season of winter. The authors deftly explain the concepts of migration, hibernation, food storage, foraging, and hunting as survival techniques. The book also tells you how you can help birds find enough food in winter by building bird feeders and keeping them supplied with seeds, nuts, and fruits.

Another science-oriented library book that nevertheless is filled with wonder at the beauty inherent in snow crystals is The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson, Ph.D. There are several amazing snow crystal photography books on the market, but this one does the best job of explaining to children how snow crystals form. The macro photography is beautiful and your child may gasp with delight upon seeing the intricate shapes that snow crystals form in nature. These photos make my heart soar.

The Story of Snow

The Tomten is a perennial favorite. We have a beat-up old paperback copy that we read again and again. This book was adapted by Astrid Lindgren from a poem by Viktor Rydberg and has a delightfully slow pace. Not much happens, and what does happens in a repetitious and comforting way, just the kind of simple rhythm that young children respond to so well. A Tomten takes care of the animals of the farm during the dead of night, when everyone is sleeping and no one can see him. No one has ever seen him, but they know he is there. He whispers to the cows in tomten language, “Winters come and winters go, Summers come and summers go, Soon you can graze in the fields.” He has a similarly reassuring message for the horses, the sheep, and the chickens. He is a special friend of the dog. He wishes the children were awake so he could talk to them, too, in tomten language that they can understand, but of course children sleep through the night.

The Tomten

Sybille von Olfers is a favorite among Waldorf-oriented families for good reasons. The Snow Children is the story of Poppy, who goes to play outside when her mother is running an errand away from home. She meets the snow children, who happily take her to visit the Snow Queen. She travels through the snowy woods to the Queen’s ice castle on a sledge pulled by Swirly-Wind. She meets the Snow Queen and the Princess, and gets to join in her birthday celebration featuring white chocolate and sweet ice-cold tea. After a fine time, Poppy is ready to return home to her mother, and eagerly tells her all about her adventures.

The Story of the Snow Children

Winter Waits by Lynn Plourde is part of her series of seasonal books, all of which are illustrated by Greg Couch. In this story, Winter is personified as a rambunctious little boy who tries to get his dad, Father Time, to play with him. Unfortunately, Dad is working. While he waits, Winter paints the grass with frost and makes the world sparkle with white. Dad asks him to be patient a bit more. In the meantime, Winter carves ice sculptures out of mountain waterfalls. He wants to show Father Time his creation, but the father’s work still isn’t done. So the boy cuts intricate snowflakes and sprinkles them about. Finally, when presented with the miracle gift of a snowflake, Father says, “Thank you, my son, you fill me with pride.” And then they play, play, play together in that special way that fathers and sons do. This story captures that excruciating waiting that so often accompanies childhood, the exuberance that comes when the wait is finally over, and the special bond between fathers and sons.

Winter Waits

Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root is a magical tale about an old woman who keeps a flock of geese. All through the spring and summer, Grandmother Winter carefully gathers the goose feathers that the birds drop. In the autumn, she begins to sew a quilt and fills it with feathers. Grandmother shakes out her finished quilt and causes the snowflakes to begin to fall. Children catch the flakes on their tongues and grown-ups stack the firewood high, and the animals get ready to slumber under the mud of the pond or in their cozy dens. She climbs into bed under her new quilt—fine as a blanket of snow—to stay warm through the winter, and her geese tuck their heads under their wings to wait for spring. I adore the artwork by Beth Krommes.

Grandmother Winter

Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr are three Swedish boys in a series of books by Maj Lindman. Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the The Yellow Sled is a gentle story that my sons love. The brothers see a fancy yellow sled in a shop window and ask their mother if they can earn the money to buy the sled, which they can all ride at the same time. Mother agrees and gives them special chores to do to earn the money. The boys go about their tasks cheerfully—washing dishes, helping with the cooking, doing laundry and the shopping, and scrubbing and dusting the house—just as you want your own children to do. They even bring Mother tea, flowers, and cake on her birthday. After two weeks, Mother agrees to take them to the shop to buy the sled. When they arrive there, they see a little boy who also dearly desires to have the yellow sled, but whose family cannot afford it. The boys agree to give the yellow sled they have earned to the less fortunate boy, and they make him and his siblings so happy in doing so. Mother is pleased with their generosity and agrees to let Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr earn another yellow sled for themselves. I love the example these brothers set with their helpfulness and generosity.

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Treasure: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

I don’t own this little treasure, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson, but I will someday. This sweet book is one I discovered because I enjoy the illustrations of Tiphanie Beeke, who illustrated The Stars Will Still Shine, by Cynthia Rylant, a book I wrote about a while ago here.

The Soft, Swishing Sound of Summer Was Fading to a Crinkly Whisper

Rawlinson has created a touching story of a little fox named Fletcher (Ferdie in the UK) who has a favorite tree. When the autumn weather comes and the tree begins to lose leaves, Fletcher becomes worried and tries to help his friend keep its leaves.

Fletcher and His Mama in Their Den

Fletcher Caught It in His Paw

Each day, more and more leaves turn brown and flutter down to the ground.

The Leaves Began to Wriggle Free

Little Lost Leaves Spun Everywhere

This painting is marvelous, full of movement and emotion. This is rather what winter looks like to me, as we get no snow where we live. The autumn leaves hang onto the trees well into December until eventually the winds and the rains knock them off. Then everything becomes muted browns and soft greens and foggy grays.

Friendly Birds Try to Put the Leaves Back On

Fletcher even tries to get the friendly birds to put the leaves back on the tree.

Sadly He Carries the Last Leaf

When all the leaves have fallen off, Fletcher feels that he has failed his friend.

"You are more beautiful than ever"

The next morning he discovers his tree covered with silver icicles.  Winter has arrived and it’s breathtaking. “’You are more beautiful than ever,’ whispered Fletcher. ‘But are you all right?’
‘A tiny breeze shivered the branches, making a sound like laughter, and in the light of the rising sun, the sparkling branches nodded.’

Fletcher’s naive experience of the turning of the seasons is moving. He makes discoveries in nature with a childlike wonder that is ever so appealing. Paired with Beeke’s evocative illustrations, Rawlinson’s book is pure delight. I see that Rawlinson has written two other Fletcher stories as well: Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas and Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms. Both are also illustrated by Beeke.

My Winter Book Recommendations

Treasure: The Animal Fair

Birds in the Fall

In the Fall

I walk on yellow leaves in fall,
And see the earth from summer turning.

I hear the brown birds’ distant call,
And smell the autumn fires burning.

Soon all the leaves will fade and die,
The last wild birds will rise and roam.

The wind will blow and snow will fly.
But I’ll be warm and safe at home.

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This poem and art is from The Animal Fair by Alice and Martin Povensen, which is one of the grooviest Golden Books ever published (originally 1952). Bergin Streetman posted about it on Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves, coincidentally on Asher’s birthday this year, so you can see more there. This book is chock-full of amazing artwork, poems, jokes, and stories. It’s very fun.

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Isn’t this lovely?

Halloween Fairy’s Gifts

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Frankly, it took my children a while to remember to put their candy out for the Halloween Fairy. I didn’t mind, I know she’s busy; I have it on good authority that fairies are often overworked and running a tad behind schedule. I knew the kids would remember eventually. In the intervening eight days since Halloween, my boys have remembered that there was Halloween candy in the house and asked for a piece exactly twice.

Last night we sorted through the loot. So. Much. Candy. What’s with people these days? Whole Snickers bars? Full-size Hershey’s bars? I watched both of my kids struggle with this candy sacrifice more than ever before. Lucas had been saying he was going to give up 100 percent of his candy to get “something really good.” (Talk like that makes a mama proud, but a Halloween Fairy somewhat nervous.) When it came down to it, though, giving up the candy was harder than he expected. He had to be coaxed to put the bulk of the candy into the sacrifice bowl for her. I do not use the word sacrifice lightly here.

Asher was more than a little bewildered about the whole thing. I think he probably doesn’t remember doing this in past years, being only 4 and a half. And now, he’s got all this candy (my Asher has a sweet tooth) and we’re asking him to do what? Are we crazy? It’s a good thing he is so accustomed to following his brother’s lead in all things.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Don’t worry, there is plenty of candy left over to be doled out on special occasions or for a reward for some great behavior. I’m not above using this as an incentive to get Lucas to practice piano.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

So, our tradition is to leave the Halloween candy out in a bowl on the back porch for the Halloween Fairy to come and get it. The boys went to sleep last night with this image in mind. This morning we were awakened by Asher’s jumping onto our bed with freezing fingers and shouting, “The Fairy came! The Halloween Fairy came and there’s something outside for us. Can we get it? Can we?” I repeat, freezing fingers. So we layabout parents got up and the kiddos ripped into their presents in the dawn light.

Gifts from the Halloween Fairy

Amazing! A book about a young master of martial arts (first in a series) and a ninja bear for Lucas. A rainbow dragon and book about dragons for Asher. I have assured them that they can both enjoy the dragon book when Lucas asked about it; Lucas is keen to “study dragons.” To our delight, both toys were played with this morning. Apparently the ninja has a magic sword and the dragon can breath fire and shoot lightning from its tail.

October Birdwatching

Robins

My babies are home sick right now. You could say we overdid it this past weekend—which is totally true—but I know this is a virus they came by honestly. And so we are stuck at home together, while mama tries to meet editing deadlines and take care of ill boys, and said boys try to be still and let fevers and nausea pass with a minimum of mess. We have been doing a bit of birdwatching from our bay window. This morning, Asher and I sat and watched from our glider chair for 30 minutes or so. The birdbath has been popular!

Robin Female

A pair of robins visited us for a dip and a drink. Photographing fast-moving birds through a window I never clean doesn’t make for the greatest shots, especially with crazy cosmos flowers and buds blocking the view, but it is fun to see birds using this birdbath my family got me for my birthday last year. I love it and keep it filled with water at all times.

Gray Bird (Don't Know What Kind)

I don’t know what this gray darling is, but he or she was politely waiting a turn at the bath while the robins were there. Another gray bird with darker plumage was also waiting in the wings, so to speak.

Robin Male

Here’s that male robin again on the weeping cherry tree (that is trying hard to morph into a fruiting cherry tree).

Later on, I heard (before I saw) a woodpecker pecking at my purple robe locust tree, which seems to have mysteriously died this summer. I loved that tree. The woodpecker seems to indicate that it is indeed dead and not coming back. It grew fast to about 30 feet, bloomed like mad with huge purple flower clusters like grapes for about four years, and then gave up the ghost. Hopefully the woodpecker was finding a meal at least.

We have hummingbirds that visit our yard, too. They love all of my flowers, especially my cannas, salvias, and morning glories. This morning I watched one do its aerial dance, flying way up high and diving down into the yard. That seems to be a territorial thing. Hummingbirds rarely rest, but if I watch closely I sometimes spot lone individuals on the power lines. On Ian’s birthday a couple of days ago, a hummingbird flew right in front of him and hovered there at eye level for a few moments, just looking at him, before flying away. It seemed to him to say, “Happy birthday!” (Once, he gratefully held a stunned hummingbird in his hands after it had bonked into a window. It shook off the crash and quickly flew away. Another time, Ian was spraying the garden with the hose and a hummingbird came and bathed in the spray for a while, hovering in place to get clean. He kept stock-still with the steady spray until the bird was finished bathing. These experiences have made hummingbirds special to him.)

Blackbird in Yerba Buena Gardens

I met this handsome fellow last month in San Franciso in the Yerba Buena Gardens. So, he’s not an October bird sighting, but I couldn’t resist including him. It’s rare and thrilling to get this close.

Birds are part of the Little Acorn Learning October Enrichment Guide curriculum in the first week of October, which is what inspired me to look out the window and watch that birdbath. You can see the full contents and purchase the e-book here. Along with many other talented artisans and educators, I have contributed several craft project tutorials to it, including a woodworking project that Ian helped a bunch on. Here are a few craft photos from this month that didn’t make the cut for the ebook.

Cornhusk Flowers

Watercolor Wash

Inside

Maybe these will whet your whistle? You can find tutorials for these projects and much, much more at http://littleacornlearning.com/octoberenrichment.html. If you care for small and school-age children, you might really love these Enrichment Guides!

I hope you are able to spot some lovely October birds.

Reading Reward

Lucas just had his fifth piano recital. He played two fairly long pieces of music: the theme from Star Wars and “Colorful Sonatina,” with three movements. “Six whole pages of music!” he would like everyone to know.

Preparing for "Star Wars" Theme

Ready to Play "Colorful Sonatina"

We are so very proud of him. He worked hard for this one, and to ensure that he got in all the practice time he needed, I made a “14 Days of Music” chart to track his practice sessions. I put two rewards on the chart: one at seven practices for a dessert of his choice (cookies and cream ice cream) and one “book reward.” He worked for that book reward, having decided long before he achieved it that what he wanted was a Missile Mouse graphic novel.

After Piano Recital: Taking His Bow

This is my not-so-great shot of Lucas just after he finished playing. He was happy and relieved to have it behind him, I think, and proud of how well he played. After the recital cookies, we went straight to the bookstore to buy Missile Mouse. He came straight home and read it cover to cover!

Can you think of a better reward that a new book? No, I can’t either.

I love that my kid is motivated by reading books! Lucas has four different books going right now, I think. I don’t know if he switches between them when the reading gets difficult, or if he just enjoys having several different stories to dive into. Right now he’s reading The 39 Clues book 1, Stuart Little and a Jack and Annie Magic Tree House book (I have no idea which number). He also picks up grandma’s book about Samurai once in a while, which is way over his head but totally cool nonetheless.

He’s now pushing the books he has read on me and Ian. He thinks Ian would enjoy Missile Mouse. And for me, he recommends the Spiderwick Chronicles. “Mom, I think you’d really like this one. You should borrow my book and read it.” And you know what? I am. And I will, whenever he says that because it’s totally wonderful that he wants to share his discoveries. If we can geek out about the books we enjoy together, I’ll be a happy mama indeed!

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.

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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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