Love Is …

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepaway Camp

A little guarded and anxious this morning. Then seven of his friends arrived to go with him. It's going to be awesome.  I'm a proud mama. #summer #waldorf #camp #12yearold #seventhgrade

My sweet 12-year-old left this morning for his first sleepaway camp experience. He and six friends from his school (most from his same class) left for Camp Winthers, which is in the mountains not too far from our city. We are very excited for him and we’re sure he’s going to have a wonderful time. He had a little trouble sleeping last night because he was anxious, but I don’t think he’ll be feeling that way for long. I think he looks a little guarded in this photo.

Waiting for buddies, and for roll call. Camp Winthers,  here they come! #summer #boys #kids #waldorf #friends # camp

This is the same summer camp that Ian went to when he was a boy, and later, as a teen, he worked as a camp counselor there. He assures us that they will keep Lucas so busy with fun activities he won’t have time to be homesick. Ian has already send Lucas a care package so it will reach him before the end of the week.

He will canoe, hike, play, learn, swim, and explore all week. He’ll have no little brother or mama or dad nagging him. He’ll be with some of his best buddies for five whole days.

Lucas and some of his friends left for Camp Winthers this morning. First time at sleepaway camp! #summer #12yearold #friends #waldorf #camp

I’m very grateful that Lucas got to go on two week-long trips earlier this year with his class and teacher. They were great practice for this first opportunity to be without parents or a familiar teacher. My son is a kind, sensible, competent guy, who has great friends, and who makes friends easily. I am pleased he’s getting the chance to stretch his wings in this way.

Bon voyage, my love!

Barefoot Boys

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It’s a celebration around here. There was a big class party for the sixth grade. The first graders had a swim party yesterday. They are done for the year, and are dreaming of lazy days of pure fun. In honor of this special day, the last day of school, I present this evocative poem by Whittier.

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Sprinklers!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

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Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

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Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

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Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

—John Greenleaf Whittier (1855)

Yay, Summer! Indeed!

Three Amigos

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

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three friends at the theatre

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

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

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

He’s Home

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

Boy and his dog #11yearold #sixthgrade #home

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

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

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

 

On the Beauty and Oddness of This Week

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

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

Brave teacher #spring #waldorf #sixthgrade #camping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watching the rare hail come down #spring

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

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My little scientist

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

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

Wool Painting for Imbolc

We brought out the wool and made a little "wool painting" together for Imbolc. This was Asher's first time needle felting.

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will take another flight. If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again.”

This has been a weekend jam-packed with holidays and special events: Asher’s seventh birthday, Lunar New Year, Super Bowl today, and Imbolc, or Candlemas, and Groundhog Day. I have a post or two brewing, particularly Asher’s birthday celebration. Unfortunately, we’ve been pretty sick and down for the count for a couple of days.

Asher and I had some time this morning while Lucas and Ian were at basketball practice. We thought Imbolc would be a good time to bring out the wool roving and make something wooly and beautiful. There’s something soothing and lovely about the feel of warm, soft wool in your hands. Asher has never needle-felted before, but he was ready for it. We used a white wool base that I had felted into a rough oval at some time in the past. Asher got to choose the colors for our meadow scene. We worked together and I taught him how sharp and stabby the needle can be, and that we must be very careful. He seemed to enjoy the felting. It was fun making this little wool painting of sheep in a meadow with him.

Babies! #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorf #farm #baby #sheep

Last week, one of the school sheep gave birth to two sweet lambs. We enjoyed a little bit of rain, too. These are some of the many blessings in our winter. What are your wintertime blessings?

Since today is quite fair and not rainy, I’m hoping that we have more weeks of (wet) winter ahead of us. We really need the rain.

If you’d like more info about this festival, I wrote about Imbolc last year here. And here is a little family ritual we did to focus on the hearth and home aspects of this Celtic holiday.

Happy Imbolc, or Candlemas, or feast day of Saint Brigid, Groundhog Day, or Super Bowl day! Whatever you do today, be sure to do it with people you love.

Mothering

There are some moments when I despair. I look at these two strange beings who bicker and occupy my home, who confuse and frustrate me, and are so different from me, and I wonder if I am having any civilizing influence on them at all.

Then I get sick, like I am now, and they come to me with soft small hands, stroking my skin and hair, bringing me cool wet cloths for my forehead, and rubbing my shoulders. They hold me close, cuddle up next to me, worry about me, and whisper sweet words of comfort.

And I feel their mothering and hear my own words coming back to me. It’s a mirror, and a window to their future selves.

Waldorf: Forming

Lucas is home sick today. This is what he made for me and to pass the time. Wow. #waldorf #sixthgrade #geometry #drawing #art

Lucas drew this for me on a day when he stayed home sick.

I went to two parent meetings this week, one for first grade and one for sixth.

In first grade, we parents don’t all know each other. We are reaching our way into new relationships, new trusts. We have a new teacher and we’re working out things like how to handle Michaelmas with our little ones, lunch sharing, who has dangerous nut allergies, and how the kids are supporting each other through the change and challenge of first grade, with desks, worktime, mental math, after care, etc. We played get-to-know-you games. Within the first moments, a clever and gregarious dad had us all laughing. We have a long way to go together. It was a good start.

Our class teacher taught us this quote from Rudolf Steiner:
“Form is movement come to rest.”

This makes for a nice segue. First graders are learning their first form drawings. The class is forming. The parent body is forming.

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In sixth grade, we class parents know each other well. We’ve volunteered together; chaperoned together; sewed, cooked, and worked together. Over the last five years (or more), we’ve built friendships that mirror—or even contrast—the friendships the children have with one another. We have supported each other through tough emotional times, through change and loss and struggle, through moments of great celebration like births and birthdays, new jobs. We have a new teacher in this class, too. And she has both the joy and challenge of winning over and leading a cohesive, cooperating parent body.

And though taking two evenings away to meet with new and old friends at school is an inconvenience, it’s also deeply satisfying to be in community. See, parenting can be lonely work. It can feel as though one is standing on the shore, trying to direct and guide the ocean waves—“You, come now.” “You, not so far!” “Wait, not yet, I’m not ready.” Stand your ground. Bend when appropriate. Sink or swim.

We parents don’t all make the same decisions with and for our families. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, or have the same value system. Families come in different shapes and sizes, with different routines, different pastimes, different stuff. We sometime crave more or less connection. But despite these contrasts, we are all here on this journey together. Our trip through Waldorf as parents is a kind of echo of our children’s experience, or maybe the base note that lies underneath their intricate melody. We get to paint and carve wood less frequently than they do, but along the way, and by involving ourselves and intersecting with the school, the class, the parent body, and the festivals, we have the opportunity to find soul-enriching connection and learning just the same.

Last night our class teacher taught us how to make a geometric drawing. (See what the children have been up to in the photo above.) We got to use our children’s high-end, magnificent, school-supplied tools: the sexiest compass I’ve ever touched, shiny metal rulers, mechanical pencils, a 30-60-90 drafting triangle. We made a circle on our paper and added six intersecting circles, forming a flower inside with six petals. It took time. We had to listen and concentrate. Our class teacher had to be precise in her verbal instructions. It was a taste of the kind of demanding and beautiful work our children are doing in their main lesson.

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It also formed a visual metaphor for where our sixth grade child is in his or her development. This is the soulful part: the teacher allowed us to experience the meaning through the metaphor of drawing. The twelve rays we drew represented the twelve main subjects they will be studying this year: geometry, Michaelmas, minerology, Roman history, physics, astronomy, business math, the Fall of Rome and the Golden Age of Islam, geography, math/percentages, medieval history. She included review/sleep as a ray—a key component to their learning and processing of the curriculum. The twelve rays find their way to the center, into the soul life of the child.

We talked about how sixth graders need form, order, and support in this because they are not quite able to order themselves yet. They are competent, but not organized. Self-aware but not self-possessed. They are special individuals who crave conformity and unity. They are forming. Each of the drawings above is the same form, but look how individual the expression of it turned out. Amazing.

Oh—the Michaelmas dragon is going to be AWESOME!

First Days of School 2013

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Last Tuesday, September 3, was our first day back at school. I was over the moon to get some hours to myself. The boys were excited, but Lucas pretended to be sad about summertime coming to a close for this photo. The first morning was playful and optimistic.

Brothers (First Day of School, 2013)

Asher is in first grade this year and Lucas is in sixth! This is one of those milestone moments when you realize, wow, time has passed! Somehow Lucas’s new haircut makes him seem so much older.

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See, Asher was calm, cool, and collected, right? Lucas acted somewhat blasé about the whole thing that first morning. Though I knew that he was very, very jazzed to get to spend his days with his friends and classmates again. Lucas is also excited about having a new teacher this year. He is rededicating himself to his studies, and to his first school sport, cross country running, which is terrific.

Unfortunately for Asher, the first day of school proved to be difficult and scary. He became clingy and and weepy when it was time to go into his classroom.

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Shortly afterward the school held the annual welcome ceremony. All the classes and many parents attended. This turned out to be a stressful thing for Asher, who had never been to anything like it. He wept a bit until his new teacher brought him to sit by her at the end of the row. She rubbed his back and helped him to calm down during the speeches. The tradition is that the second graders give the first graders a flower as a welcome to the school. The teachers also give flowers to the senior class. It’s a lovely acknowledgement of their place in this beautiful Waldorf journey.

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Then, each senior student takes the hand of a first grader and as a group they walk through the school. The older student shows the younger one around, explains where everything is (playgrounds, bathrooms, classrooms, library, farm, etc.). This lovely young lady was Asher’s buddy. He was trying so hard to keep it together, but he was overwhelmed and sad.

He spent a fair amount of time that evening worrying about the next day. There were lots of tears and fear.

Day 2 for Asher started very rocky, but got better. When Ian and I picked him up after school, Asher was in good spirits and said, “It was better than I thought it would be.” Then he showed us his first form drawing and gave Daddy a drawing lesson. He said he met the Spanish teacher and learned some German words for colors. He was in good spirits, and enjoyed spending some special time with Dad in the afternoon.

By evening it was a different story, however. I was forced to admit that tiredness got the better of him and he … well, lost his composure. Again with the tears, the wracking sobs, and “Mama, I just don’t think I can make it through first grade!”

So, with plenty of cuddles and reassuring words, I lay beside him in the dark, and taught him that no matter how bad or scared he may feel, five deep, long breaths would ALWAYS make him feel better. I held his sad, shaking body and remembered that there was a time, only six years ago, when our positions were reversed. When his soft, trusting, tiny, breathing presence was the thing that kept me going when I was very sick, depressed, and terrified.

As exhausting as this mothering job is, as ceaseless and hard and infuriating as it can be sometimes, I am still amazed at the privilege I possess: to see this little being unfold and encounter the world. To see him experience his challenges and stand up and face them, to ride them out until they cease being challenges and transform into achievements. It is an honor of the highest kind.

Asher is teaching me anew about Michaelmas this year, in a way I didn’t anticipate. I am the squire who is tasked with helping the little knight onto the field.

The school days that followed have been progressively better as he became more used to his new school routine, the new expectations, new children in his class, a new teacher, desks, lessons, etc. He lamented to me several times, “Mama, it’s just all so new!” It’s true. There is so much to learn. We have talked a lot about bravery—that one can only be brave if one is also afraid. And that courage lives in us, even when we feel small and scared.

By Friday, “It was the best day yet!”

And now we’re halfway through the second week. No more tears. Asher’s teacher and his friends all report that he’s now fine. Yesterday he stayed for aftercare and even that went well. Although he was worried about it beforehand, after school he said, “It was fun.” And this morning, “Mama, you don’t have to worry about me and nap. I mean, I’m fine with being picked up and fine with staying for nap.”

Asher's first form drawing. Now he is giving Daddy a drawing lesson. #waldorf #firstgrade #formdrawing

So, with some patience, talking about our feelings, extra cuddles and songs, and some quiet routine-building, we seem to have made it over this big scary adjustment. I am so proud of him!

Lucas, suffice it to say, has dived into school. He’s happy, connected, and working hard. Homework every night, which is new, and running practice twice a week after school. He has a lot more on his plate this year, but he’s approaching it with joy.

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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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