Michaelmas 2018: Embody the Dragon

This year, my younger son’s sixth-grade class got to build and embody the dragon at our school’s Michaelmas festival, which was held on September 28. This is a huge project and several very talented parents in our class took on this work. I’m so very grateful for their time and talents in this endeavor. Huge thank yous to Criss, Nar, David, Mike, and Brian, who sculpted the head; David, who fashioned the wings; to Sandra, who sewed the tail; to Sandra, Tamu, and others who helped the kids glitter the dragon skin; to Melissa and Brian, who helped the children make the hats/dragon spines; I know Neva was there throughout and I’m sure that I’m forgetting to credit others who helped.

This year, the class decided that their dragon would be white. No one could remember a time when the dragon was white. They wanted it to be sparkly and shimmering, so we spent a day painting with with spray glitter and gold and silver paints.

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I think they said we used 40 yards of silk.

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At our school, the traditional Michaelmas festival involves the fearsome dragon interrupting the peaceful village, while the villagers are dancing and singing. With a great booming of drums, the dragon enters the village and the villagers go running.

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These lovely sixth graders are in the belly of the beast, so to speak, dealing with all the social and emotional and intellectual challenges that come with the age. Friendships change, they adapt to more difficult schoolwork, and the difficulties of individuation and finding themselves, and figuring out what matters to them—what side they stand on in all manner of issues great and small.

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A brave knight, George (played by a high school senior), with the help of the Archangel Michael, faces the dragon. Michael imbues George with goodness and strength to tame the dragon.

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Second graders and twelfth graders surround the dragon. With their will and their love, they subdue its threat and make it tame.

When I conquer within me fear and wrath,

Michael in heaven casts the dragon forth.

 

Firmly on the Earth I stand.

Michael’s sword within my hand.

When I conquer fear, the dragon’s chains I tightly bind.

Michael’s light is in my mind.

When I thrust against the monster’s might

Michael is at my side.

 

Harken all, the time has come!

When all the world at last the truth shall hear,

Then the lion shall lie down with the lamb.

Our lances shall be turned to reaping hooks,

Swords and guns be cast as plowshares.

Nations shall live in lasting peace.

All men unite as brothers.

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My dear Asher is always so funny. He is a beacon of light in my life.

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Second graders pose with the dragon that they helped to subdue. (They are studying the saints this year.)

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On the one hand, it’s just a school festival—a bunch of kids, organized by grades, dressed in costume and performing in a pageant. On the other hand, it’s a massive effort full of heart, an event that affirms and builds community, pulling in people whose children have long-ago outgrown the school. It’s a place where innocence and courage are embodied, where we can urge and model stepping out to boldly stand up for our values and confront the things that threaten to make us weaker, fearful, and divided. There is no lack of dragons like that to confront in our world today.

Matthew Barton, writing in the introduction to a reader of Steiner writings and talks touching on Michaelmas, says this moment in which we live is awakening us “to the consequences of our own actions in many different spheres, asking us to exercise moral judgement and take responsibility for ourselves and the planet. To reconnect consciously. And increasingly it is becoming clear, in a way similar to the wider vistas that open up as leaves fall, that a battle is raging between these developing forces of sensitivity, awareness and responsibility and those—really there is not other word—demonic self-interest, social divisiveness and materialism, often, let’s not deceive ourselves, combined within each one of us. So the battle is with and within ourselves.”

I’m very fond of this festival. Here is where I wrote about Lucas’s sixth-grade Michaelmas dragon.

Michaelmas: New Dragons

Halloween Fun

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

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

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

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

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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

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#halloween #king

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

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

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

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Most wonderful time of the year!

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

Blessed Rain for Earth Day

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

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

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

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

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

#nofilter #roses

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

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

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

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


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

Blessed Be.

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

Late Spring Festivals E-Book

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

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

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Part One: Passover

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

Sprout Babies

Part Two: Earth Day

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


Flower Prints Art Project

Part Three: May Day

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

aprons

Part Four: Mother’s Day

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

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

 

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

—Henry David Thoreau

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

—Eileen Hutchins

Midwinter Holidays

Sol Invictus, Lord of Light, Reborn!

I am hoping your midwinter holidays were as beautiful as ours were. Life is so full lately it’s hard to keep up with my blogging, but I do try to take lots of pictures still. This was the sun on December 24, Sol Invictus, Lord of Light reborn!

Christmas Eve sushi

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve sushi dinner with Ian’s father, Glen, and his love, Miriam. We go to a tiny little restaurant that serves Japanese and Korean foods. It’s never full on Christmas Eve, and we get to enjoy a lingering meal, complete with gift-opening. It’s a brief oasis in the midst of the busyness of the days of Christmas and we cherish it every year.

Merry Christmas! Here we go!

I am very grateful to spend my Christmases with this beautiful man. I love him completely.

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The pregnant moment, the Before, when all is quiet and the children are in bed. Everything is ready and the anticipation in the air is palpable. I try to catch this magical moment each year.

Astonished that Santa brought a tablet for our family

Christmas morning dawned beautifully—and EARLY. We have a rule. No presents before Mom and Dad get their coffee.

Oh, the bounty! Santa Claus was amazingly generous. He brought Asher a robot lizard that walks and follows you around. (He and Ian got to build it together too.) Santa brought Lucas a small stereo system for his bedroom, which has a much-needed alarm clock. And he brought our family a Kindle Fire tablet, our first device of this nature. 

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My parents came over in the morning for a brief brunch. They blew Lucas’s mind by giving him a PC computer. He’s going to need it for high school next year, and is learning how to use it. (And what NOT to click online—thanks to an early virus infection. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased about that because it scared the daylights out of him. We were able to return it to factory settings.)

My daddy and mama

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Asher really got into the spirit of things. He had spent the three days before Christmas making things and going through his belongings and wrapping up gifts for people. By the time he was finished, there was something under the tree for everyone, with tags written on binder paper.

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I found some stylish clothes for my boys. This hoodie for Asher, who loves to make a splash, and a dark and brooding/lurking long hoodie for Lucas, who rather likes to fade mysteriously into the background. They each got books and art supplies, a Death Note tee for Lucas, a Gryffindor tee for Asher. My folks delivered two indoor RC helicopters, which have seriously improved over early models. I’m hoping Asher will break out the spirograph set we got him soon because I really want to play with it.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to see my brother and his family on Christmas. It’s just impossible to be in two places at the same time. At least, so far.

We spent the afternoon at Ian’s mom and stepfather’s home, celebrating with family. Little cousin Jack is 3 now, and getting big.

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And then we rushed home to our crazy house to fill it with beloveds for what is either the 20th or 21sth year in a row (some debate about that). I typically fail at snapping any photos during this party, which is a shame, really, because my friends are all so beautiful to me. We poured drinks and talked, shared food and friendship. It’s everything I want for Christmas night, every year. I really cannot say it enough: Thank you, darlings, for sharing your Christmas with us. It means the world to me. 

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I know it is nuts to be writing about Christmas on January 28. I have so much I want to blog about, and this post has been blocking my flow, so to speak. I frequently write on Facebook, but that stuff gets lost in the stream of time. I’m going to try to write more here because I miss it and I need it. I need to clear the blocks.

So, I’ll end by saying Happy New Year to all.

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Invoking the Light

Happy Solstice!

6500365891_3247aaf429Yule Fires: A Carol

(Sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”)

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by winter’s cold
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its great pyre;

So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
It’s fiery course across the sky,
To warm them so they would not die. (Chorus)

Chorus: Yule Fires light up the night!
Yule fires give us delight!
Yule Fires call back the Sun,
And keep our hearts ever burning!

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
Of anger in the evil will,
The human conflict, hate, and strife,
Which hold a menace over life;

Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts may move,
In Yuletide joy, with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace. (Chorus)

John G. MacKinnon

Sunshine

Well, it seems some are celebrating the Solstice today/tonight and some are celebrating tomorrow/tomorrow night. The solstices and equinoxes can be a bit tricky. Astronomers and meteorologists calculate it down to the minute, but frankly, I just pick whatever is most convenient for our busy lives.

We’ve been getting ready, little by little, for the holidays. There is so much going on at this time of year, and it seems our home transforms more at this time of year than any other. 

This year's wreath ... unless I add more stuff to it

To fit in the Christmas tree, we have to move furniture and dust under things. It’s quite a production. And yet, as our home becomes more and more festive, more and more filled with light, it gets cozier and cozier.

Smells divine and full of happiness

All the better to snuggle in and then welcome our guests.

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I find I cherish sunbeams anywhere I find them.

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And chase after December rainbows … even barefoot.

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Our winter storms are knocking all the pretty leaves to the ground. We have been having a dark and rainy day today, which only means we can better appreciate the warmth and light that comes with the rebirth of the sun.

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We’ve been enjoying holiday parties and friends and family. Last weekend was Grinchmas, the annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at our friends’ beautiful home. We recently went to our first gingerbread house decorating party. I’ve never seen so much candy outside a candy shop in my life!

Gingerbread house party!

Tonight we go to a Solstice party, and tomorrow night, on the 22nd, we’ll hold our usual quiet family celebration here. I’ve got a newish solstice dessert idea and my son has requested a vegetarian yellow curry. Sounds perfect to me. I’m thinking potatoes, garbanzos, corn, peas, leeks and chard.

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We’re also celebrating that golden fellow above, Solstice Dog, who came to us four years ago. He is a bright, shining light in our lives, working devotedly to keep our spirits up and our blood pressures down. We love him so!

Good people all this happy tide,
Consider well and bear in mind,
All that strong love for us can do
When we remember our promise true.

Now love itself stands in this place
With glorious beauty and pleasant grace;
To welcome us with open heart
And raise up welcome in every hearth.

Whatever life on us bestows,
Love’s mantle round our shoulders goes
Remembering this day’s delight,
To bring us help and mercy bright.

When darkest winter draweth near,
The light is kindled without fear;
Love sparks at Midwinter so deep,
This blessed time in our hearts keep.

When coldest winter draweth near,
Turn we to joy and make good cheer;
Remembering our vows so strong,
We raise our voices in this song.

Drive darkest want and need away,
Remember we this happy day.
Call love to witness, everyone,
And dance beneath the winter sun.
—Caitlin Matthews

 

And now it’s time to go, so I’ll sign off and thank you for reading. May your Solstice be bright and blessed, full of the tinkling laughter of loved ones and sparkling lights shining in the winter darkness. Blessed Be!

Saint Nicholas’s Day

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Good morning! It’s the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas. We were blessed to wake up this morning to find little gifts in our polished shoes.

Saint Nicholas came! He left little treats and treasures. #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivalseason #festivals #holidays #saints

A pretty little blank book and pen set, an orange, some chocolates, and a honey stick. Small things can inspire big delight.

It’s also the second Sunday of Advent, and we traditionally get our Yule tree on this day. We might be able to fit that in between Lucas’s basketball game and his Advent Spiral event tonight. We’ll see. I’m definitely feeling the urge to decorate for the holidays, and so far haven’t had time.

We’re wishing you a merry day, whatever you’re doing today. May you enjoy a moment of giving, a moment of gratitude, a moment of satisfying work, a moment of joy, and a moment of rest.

Thankful!

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Thanksgiving
Outside the barn the wind is strong,
Bringing cold November rain;
Within these walls the hay is sweet,
Bins are filled with yellow grain.
The cows are quiet in their stalls,
The newest calf is sound asleep;
And close together in their pen
Rest the gently breathing sheep.
The mare’s big colt is by her side
To share with her the the golden hay—
I’m truly thankful, Lord, that these
Are fed and sheltered on this day.

—Judy Van der Veer

First Thanksgiving of All
Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience (very small),
Stood by the table giving thanks
The first Thanksgiving of all.
There was very little for them to eat,
Nothing special and nothing sweet;
Only bread and a little broth,
And a bit of fruit (and no tablecloth);
But Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience, in a row,
Stood up and asked a blessing on
Thanksgiving long ago.
Thankful they were their ship had come
Safely across the sea;
Thankful they were for hearth and home,
And kin and company;
They were glad of broth to go with their bread,
Glad their apples were round and red,
Glad of mayflowers they would bring
Out of the woods again next spring.
Peace and Mercy and Jonathan,
And Patience (very small),
Stood up gratefully giving thanks,
The first Thanksgiving of all.

—Nancy Bird Turner

Looking forward to running with Jami tomorrow!There’s so much to be thankful for! My friends and family, our charming and clever boys, our silly delightful dogs. My brave and beautiful husband. Our safe home, and our abundant opportunities to grow and learn and thrive. Challenges that keep us sharp and urge us on to become our better selves. Waldorf school. Business partners extraordinaire. The boundless generosity of our family and community. Forgiveness. Courage. Love. Constancy. Hope. Life is rich and full of miracles both large and small. About to start!

My Thanksgiving Day started with a 10K run with Jami, in the 22nd annual Run to Feed the Hungry. 28,644 people ran to raise money for the Sacrament Food Bank and Family Services, which helps those members of our community who are food insecure. It wasn’t easy because I haven’t been training much, but we did it and we finished strong. It was definitely fun! Start Run to Feed the Hungry!  upload And what a glorious day! After Jami and I parted ways, I wandered through California State University Sacramento a bit, taking pictures and looking for my car. (I forgot to pay attention to where I parked it.) No matter. It meant I got see see these gorgeous gingko trees!

uploadLater on, we had a lovely meal with my family. Dad does a wicked-good turkey! Everyone was in high spirits!Happy Thanksgiving!Delicious

I made a gratined chard recipe for the first time, which I’m definitely making again.

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We rounded out our visit with a game of SpaceTeam, and then binged on Avatar the Last Airbender episodes. We’re into season 3 again, so things are really heating up for Aang and the gang. 😉

On Saturday we get to visit with Ian’s family, where I expect excitement will be high.

And now, it’s off to deadline land for me. Although the boys have a whole week off, I’m working hard on a big project.

XO

2015 Michaelmas

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It’s almost too late to write about Michaelmas, since it was a month ago. Honestly, I’m being pulled in so many directions these days, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my feet underneath me and pointed forward.

This Michaelmas season brought with it many challenges and opportunities to exercise our courage and grow into our new selves. We got to go deep; we got to fall apart and pick ourselves up again. We got to learn more about our own fears, strengths, compassion, intuition, and capacity for love and forgiveness. We got to shed our old dragon skins and reemerge, shining and tender, into life. And the world keeps on turning …

IMG_8014 These photos are from our sons’ school Michaelmas festival, which I delight in writing about year after year.IMG_8004

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This year, Asher’s class played the role of the happy villagers of the land, who joyfully dance until the terrifying dragon arrives, disrupting their festivities and scattering them in fear.

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The dragon was fearsome and surprisingly quirky—this year’s dragon had a baby dragon with it! IMG_8118

As you maybe can see, it was a mighty hot day. My little Asher and his third-grade classmates danced beautifully, and their lovely and talented class teacher danced with them.

IMG_8034IMG_8093 With courage, pure hearts, strength in community, and Michael’s aid, the dragon was subdued. And the people rejoiced. IMG_8099 Lucas’s teacher was the town crier. She gave a dramatic performance and brought her considerable gravitas to the role. IMG_8110 IMG_8107 IMG_8124 The sixth graders create and man the dragon each year. It is a massive undertaking. The whole school turns out for this festival. It’s unifying and inspiring every time.IMG_8129 IMG_8143

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The eighth grade class is pretty busy this year with their schoolwork. They had a minor roll in the festival, which was just fine with them.

And with this we ushered in autumn, with all its beauty and contradiction. We faced our fears with renewed vigor and confidence, and we are stronger for it.

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

Summertime is here! For many families summer is a sweet time of lazy days and icy juice pops, swimming and reading and sleeping in. My boys have a few summer camp adventures this summer, and we have a couple of camping trips planned. It’s shaping up to be a lovely time.

Right now, my coauthor, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I are offering a sale on our Midsummer Festival E-Book. From now through June 30, if you buy the Midsummer Festival E-Book at the sale price of $19.99, you’ll also get the Summer Festivals Cookbook! Together these two e-books provide wonderful ideas for filling summertime with festivities, food, and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. Please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

Our labor of love will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read stories and fairy tales filled with sunshine to the children
  • Enjoy verses, songs, poems and fingerplays that celebrate the coming of summer
  • Learn about the history, background and symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get ideas for how to create your own meaning for this special festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice feast
  • Play Solstice games
  • Make a Midsummer bonfire
  • Create simple beeswax suns with the children
  • Make a Solstice wreath for the birds
  • Design Midsummer string art sunbursts
  • Read a story of The Sun Child and create a Sun Child necklace
  • Craft a shiny garden suncatcher
  • Use a rock garden sundial to tell time in your garden
  • Make a “Catch the Sun” throw toy for your child
  • Create a paper Solstice Sun
  • Create daytime and nighttime Midsummer magic
  • Hang summer Solstice flags indoors or outdoors this season
  • Plant a Midsummer indoor herb garden
  • Craft a sun mosaic birdbath
  • Make a sunshine fairy out of wool roving and felt
  • Sew and stuff herbal dream pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle-felt a summer sun wall hanging
  • Create sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the children
  • Bake sun bread with the children
  • Go on a sun hunt
  • Make a sun mask
  • Design a sunshine banner
  • Crochet sun medallion necklaces

Here are some teaser pics from the e-book. We hope they ignite your interest and inspire you to fill your days with sweet sunshine!

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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