Happy 12th Birthday!

12 #12yearold #birthday

May 1

Dear Lucas,

I love you, my happy Beltane Boy. Happy birthday! I asked  you on the morning of your birthday last week if you feel any different and you said no, but I can see a kind of relief in your face. You’ve finally made it here. All but one of  your classmates are older than you and you’ve finally caught up.

Ready for his 12th birthday! #12yearold #birthday #spring #waldorf #home #family #traditions

We celebrated in our usual way, with a special breakfast, flowers, your old birthday crown, which you gamely wore for a few moments. We gave you a few gifts in the morning and then sent you off to school.

Magic card protective sleeves.

Birthday/Beltane roses

By your report, it was a great day!

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And in the evening, we had a special dinner: you requested fettuccine Alfredo, Brussels sprouts, Caesar salad, and a very chocolatey birthday cake.

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There were a few more gifts, including this Magic The Gathering set. In fact, it was pretty much all Magic this year. It’s what you’re most interested in, most fascinated by.

Birthday party #waldorf #birthday #spring #friends #12yearold #sixthgrade

On Saturday, we had a bunch of your buddies over for a party. You rode bikes and Daddy fixed burgers for everyone, and we watched a superhero movie. You wanted ice cream sundaes for dessert. Magic, Magic, and more Magic. Your friends were very generous and I believe you said it was “the best birthday party ever.”

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There is so much I could say about the person you are now, yet I find whenever I try that my words come so short. You are a delicious mixture of competence and forgetfulness. You are physically strong and possess great endurance, yet you need more and more fuel and rest to support your growing body. You are wise and witty, sarcastic, and sometimes worldly, yet you dance into fantasy almost as easily as ever before. You are challenged every day—don’t think I don’t see it. Each day more and more is expected of you, and most of the time you square your shoulders and step forward bravely. There is more pressure in life and school this year; you are game to take on new things and often embrace a certain stoicism when it comes to things you don’t want to do. But at the end of the week, I can see that you are tired and really need to relax, rest, and play. Your possessions matter to you, except when you completely forget about them. You are working hard in school, and your work shows it. You are helpful and kind, and a good big brother, when you aren’t being provoked. You are still artistic and sensitive. You possess so many delightful contradictions. You exhibit such striving, beauty, and grace. You are the very picture of 12.

And I couldn’t possibly love you more.

 

Reassuring Children

Asher and Solstice

I’ll probably get around to writing a little about our Christmas holiday soon, but for now I want to talk about reassuring little ones when fears surface.

My little almost-7-year-old son asked me last night, as we were cuddling at bedtime, “Mama, put your arms around me. I like it. It makes me feel safe.” Then he paused and said, “How do you keep me safe?”

Such a big question at the end of a full and happy day, from a brave boy who spent his time battling orcs in the woods. Such an important moment for me as a mother. How do I say the right thing—just enough and not too much, before he drops off to sleep? Accounting for context, age, and timing is so important in parenting. My sweet boy was about to slip into dreamland. I knew what he needed to hear.

I waited a beat. And then launched into my quiet answer.

“There are many things and people in your life who are working to keep you safe, sweetheart. Some things we cannot see. Our society has laws that keep our air and water safe to breathe and drink. We have safe foods to eat. We have people who keep our country safe. We have bike helmets, seat belts in the car, and speed limits on the roads.

“Our police and firefighters keep us safe from harm and crime and emergencies. We live in a safe neighborhood. There are good people all around us.

“Mama and Daddy are here to keep you safe. We made this warm, solid home for you to live in. We stay with you and make sure you’re not alone. We lock our doors at night so we are safe while we sleep. We have safety rules. Your brother looks out for you. And you have adults all around you who protect you.

“Our love and care for one another keeps us safe. We are safe together.”

He listened. He sighed. “That’s good, Mama.” And then he fell asleep.

Another Sixth Birthday Gift: Earthbender Costume

My new baby: Janome New Home Christmas present from my mom and dad.

My parents bought me this awesome sewing machine for Christmas. It’s my third machine. I am still learning and I’m kind of hard on them. (For the record, two of my sewing machines work and one of them is a perfect learning machine. I thought I might let Lucas take it for a spin.) But this new one—this Janome New Home—is all mine. (Besides, Mom gets nervous whenever I go near her Bernina.)

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Back in December I conceived of giving Asher an Earthbender costume, inspired by one of our family’s favorite shows, Avatar the Last Airbender. Asher has always been fondest of the Earthbending skill, and when he plays at “bending,” he is always an Earthbender. Maybe it’s because green is his favorite color. At first, I thought this costume might be a Christmas gift, but then I realized it was more appropriate for his sixth birthday.

So I bought a mini gi. (Actually, I bought two. The first was too mini.) I know my limitations and I realized I could spiff-up a gi more efficiently than I could make one from scratch.

Dyed Earthbender Costume in Progress

I spent a day last week dyeing the top green and the pants and belt a taupe color. Pale yellow would have been nicer, but that wasn’t an option when buying dye.

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My mom and I carefully picked out some fancy trim, and last night I got my new sewing machine out and put it to use. I even changed the needle to a denim one, to go through all the layers of the gi edge! I read the manual and everything! Amazingly, my boys slept through my sewing.

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I cut off the sleeves and sewed on this gold and green fringe. I wanted the costume to look like a cool martial arts gi, but not exactly like a karate uniform. I have one day left before Asher’s birthday gift will be presented to him. I’m presently debating about whether to use the sleeves I cut off to make wrist bands or a headband. I hope to decorate this final item(s) with the Earthbender symbol.

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Today I spent the morning in Asher’s kindergarten class with him, to help celebrate his birthday at school. His teacher told me that yesterday she asked him what he wished for. He said he wished for infinite wishes, and for a closet full of costumes. A CLOSET FULL OF COSTUMES!

Maybe I actually have made him the right birthday gift. … Or maybe he won’t wear it at all. That’s also a possibility. If he does like it and wear it, I’ll be sure to get a photo.

Anyway, there’s just one hour left in this Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms contest. Here’s the button to vote for me. My gratitude goes out to all the wonderful friends and readers who have voted for me daily over the last two weeks. Thank you for the support and for helping me get into and stay in the Top 25! Voting closes at 4 p.m. PST on 1/30.

Thanks again!

Santa Lucia Morning

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Santa Lucia Day Breakfast

Good morning! And happy Santa Lucia Day!

Santa Lucia Day Breakfast

We ate a lovely breakfast of eggs and Lussekatter buns. Daddy told us about winter in Sweden and Santa Lucia Day—about how he used to walk to school in the dark and he wouldn’t see the sun until lunchtime, and then would have to walk home in the dark at 3 p.m.

Lussekatter for Santa Lucia Day

The Lussekatter turned out beautifully this year. My recipe is on my post from last year. These simple celebrations are getting me ready for Solstice and Christmas, I think. There’s something exciting about baking at 10 p.m. And while I am in no way a “morning person,” I love early morning magic!

Star Boy crown

I made two star boy crowns yesterday afternoon for $2 each. They are … improvised. A wreath and a 6 foot length of very soft “florist wire,” both from the Dollar Store. I just bent the wire into three continuous stars and put a little wave in between them, then wrapped the ends around the back of the wreath and tucked them in. This design fit the small wreath perfectly.

I have everything I need to make pointy felt star boy hats like the ones Ian wore when he celebrated Santa Lucia Day at his university in Sweden in 1993, but I didn’t get the time to do it this year.

Star Boy crown for Santa Lucia Day

I think the crowns are cute, but my own stjärngossar (star boys) didn’t much want to wear them. Alas.

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It rained last night, and there are shimmering jewels on the branches, sparkling in the weak winter sun.

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Have a beautiful day!

Growth and Change

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I try not to get too sentimental about my children growing up. They grow. They are made to. They strive and learn and change and discover and grow every day, with or without my consent. And I approve. Most of the time I am too busy being astounded and amazed by their leaps of intelligence, judgement, compassion, and understanding, and feats of strength and skill to be the least bit sad about their not being babies anymore.

These are pants and shorts and pajamas that my mother and I have for Asher to wear. They were sewn for him and made with love (and in my case, with mistakes and a fair amount of learning frustration). They are all too small for Asher now, and I have sent them on their merry way to another sweet boy (and his baby sister) who may get some further use out of them. They are not the first set of handmades to be passed along, and they certainly won’t be the last. Growth and change are guaranteed.

Nevertheless, I was sentimental enough to take a photo before passing them on. These clothes are loved, soft and colorful, and unique in the world. They are special not only because they once covered my sweet son’s soft skin, but because they were created with loving hands and clever tools and eyes for detail. They are special because they were made first in our hearts before they came to be objects in the world.

May they be useful in the years to come, until they are once again outgrown.

 

Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book

E-Book Cover

I’ve been a bit quiet in this space lately. We’ve been adjusting to a new school year and working through some projects. I am delighted to announce that my dear friend Eileen Straiton (of Little Acorn Learning) and I have finished another big e-book. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book and I’d be honored if you’d check it out and spread the word a little. It was a pleasure to work with Eileen on this and I’m really proud of it. We have such a great rapport and similar values, and I think this comfort and compatibility reflects in our e-book. So here’s to healthy, joyful, creative collaboration!

Here is a little teaser: a mosaic of just some of the images from the projects and activities we offer in our e-book.

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas
in your home or school!

  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath
  • And more!

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

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First Days of School

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I am delighted that school has begun. We’ve had a goooooood LOOOOOOONG stretch of summer vacation (88 days, to be precise), and we enjoyed so many wonderful adventures. But the time has come to try new things, learn more, make new friends, and engage with the world around us in a new way. The boys are both ready for it. They’ve embraced going back to school with enthusiasm.

Lucas is in fifth grade now. Suddenly that seems amazing. He is charming, capable, dynamic, and creative. He is looking forward to this year, especially studying the Greeks and the end-of-fifth-grade pentathlon. This semester he is taking woodworking for the first time, and is very excited about that. He’s waffling about staying with violin or switching to flute. He seems, well, ready to take on a lot more now. He wants to study. He wants to make his own lunch. He wants to spend his own money on school supplies. Our job is to support him in his new responsibilities. I’m grateful that we established a good chore routine this summer, as I feel schoolwork will fit in nicely.

First Karate class punches

Also this week, Lucas has started his first karate class, which is being offered through the local Parks and Recreation department. He has wanted to do martial arts for a long time, especially after an exciting and brief taste of Brazilian jiujitsu. Since we are dabbling and on a budget, this is the right solution for the time being. It helps that Lucas’s best friend is also in the class. Both Ian and I are favorably impressed with the sensei.

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Asher’s first day of his second year of Kindergarten was a day after Lucas’s first day of school. Asher is an “older” this year, which means he is an older Kindergartner who will be going to first grade next year. He knows the ropes, and is expected to help the younger students adjust to school. The olders get to work on making their Michael swords right away. This is a big deal for a little boy. He has looked with covetous eyes on Lucas’s wooden sword for many years. Apart from some new children, the Kindergarten is the same and he’s comfortable and happy there. His lovely teachers have welcomed him back with open arms.

Now, I do feel a tiny little bit bittersweet about the end of summer. Rather than focusing on the longed-for experiences that we didn’t have, I’m going to think about all we did to celebrate life and living together. Not only did we make it through, we made it beautiful too.

 

Family Clay Camp

Family Clay Camp

Right at the beginning of summer vacation, my boys and I participated in Family Clay Camp, which was offered through our local Parks and Rec. Michelle Leuth was our wonderful teacher. Lucas and I had taken a clay/pottery class from her a few years ago. Now that Asher is 5, he can start doing some of these fun activities, too!

We had a blast. Camp was four days, for two hours each day. Some friends from the boys’ school were also enrolled, so that made it extra fun. We had unlimited clay to play with for three days. On the fourth day, we painted everything. Then our pieces dried and were fired, and we picked them up a couple weeks later.

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This is Lucas’s piece de resistance: A hand reaches up out of the ooze to clasp a golden ring. The ring is separate from the hand.

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(It’s been a good, long season of reading The Lord of the Rings books in our home and these stories have clearly  fired up my children’s imaginations.)

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Asher thoroughly enjoyed this class, and got really into the feel of the clay and the fact that it took impressions. He spent a lot of time pressing textures of all kinds into his clay objects.

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This is Asher’s “design collection”—a series of clay objects with many textures. They are right in keeping with Asher’s appreciation for treasures.

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This is a small mask he made. I noticed that Asher had little interest in painting his creations—for him it was all about the forming of the objects.

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This is a kind of creature sculpture that Lucas made for his father as a Father’s Day present. The back view is on the left, front view is on the right. Asher made a lovely, lumpy candle-holder for his daddy for Father’s Day.

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The expressive artist holding his sculpture.

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I made this little gnome, using the coil method. I started at his feet and worked up, taking care to avoid having any air spaces inside the figure without a means for the air to escape during the firing process. My gnome now stands in my garden and I am rather fond of him. I also made a sunshine face and a pinch-pot style bowl. It catches my earrings on my bedside table at night.

I like making art with my boys!

Cultivating Optimism

Volunteer Sunflower! Gorgeous!

If you have a sanguine temperament, you probably never even think about optimism, or being optimistic—you just are upbeat most of the time. Not everyone is naturally optimistic, though. As caregivers and parents, optimism can be one of our most valuable personal resources. Finding ways to cultivate optimism in our lives is highly rewarding and will provide a fount of energy and love that we can draw from, especially when times get tough or we’re having a challenging day.

But what is optimism? Some would say it is hope, or the expectation that the future will bring good things. Some would define optimism as a tendency to think of life and the event unfolding around us in a positive light, to see opportunity in change, to see good outcomes when we imagine what is to come.

There is a well-documented connection between optimism and good health—and the converse. The mind-body connection is being validated by scientific research, and has long been understood in many cultures. The Latin word optimum means “best.” So how will you be your best self, live your best, do your best, and reap the best outcomes for your efforts?

Even if it’s not your tendency to be optimistic, you can cultivate optimism in your life for your own benefit and the benefit of those around you. Patterns of optimistic thinking can be learned. Here are some things you can do to nurture an optimistic outlook. I know because this is something I work on all the time.

Tired Little Hero

Get some exercise. Exercise has so many benefits, which we’ve all heard before. But the positive impact of exercise on your emotional and mental state is just exactly what you need to be optimistic. Not only does exercise provide you with a boost to your physical energy and emotional well-being, it’s also a way of investing today in your healthy, happy future. You want to be around to enjoy those grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to fulfill your life goals, and exercise is the ticket.

Japanese Maple in Bloom

Plant a tree. By planting a tree, you are symbolically looking to the future. You plan where it will go in your garden, imagine its height and breadth as it grows, how it will cast shade, and even perhaps that you will someday picnic under its canopy. What else will your tree bring you and your family? How else might it bring you joy? As you watch your tree grow, you have a symbol of your optimism.

Summer 2010 Mosaic

Practice “prenostalgia.” OK. My husband and I made up that word, but I think it works. By prenostalgia I mean imagining a moment in the future when you might look back and fondly remember this time in the present. I guess that’s a kind of funny way of saying be mindful of this moment, and take some steps to ensure that you can enjoy it later, too. Take up scrapbooking, for example, or journaling, or blogging. If you‘re a shutterbug like me, realize that every photo you snap is a simple act of optimism. You are investing in your future enjoyment of life, just as much as you’re enjoying the present.

Prepare a time capsule, or a hope chest, for your children. Add to your time capsule, little by little, through the years. It can contain artworks, special items of clothing, and other mementos. A hope chest traditionally is a collection of things that a grown child will need when she or he reaches adulthood. Exercise your imagination. What will your child like to have in the future?

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Make a handmade quilt. There’s nothing quite like a quilt as a symbol of love, warmth, and home. Stitch by stitch, you can sew in your hopes for the future, for the world, and for your beloved family members. While you work, imagine how this quilt you are making will be used, who will use it, and how it will be treasured because it came from your hands and heart.

Save some money. I look on each dollar I save for my sons’ college education as an exercise in optimism. No matter how small the amount, saving money is a way of planning for a good future. Perhaps it’s savings for your children or your own retirement; perhaps it’s for a special family vacation or for your dream home. Whatever you save for, you are acting out of hope and it feels good.

Make a microloan. Sorry to mention money twice in a row, but I think this one is great. Microloans are tiny investments in people and small businesses, especially in developing nations. There are several reputable organizations that can match micro-investors with people who need small amounts of cash (sometimes as little as $25) to get a business off the ground, thereby increasing the safety and health of their families and communities. This small investment is an act of trust and optimism, a testament to our faith in human nature and good in the world. An individual does have the power to change lives for the better, which is a way of changing the world.

Daddy Love

Find the positive. Take a moment to find the positives in every situation, especially in those that are seemingly bad or discouraging. This silver-lining thinking may require some deep soul-searching and some practice to make it a habit, but if you make a concerted effort to change your negative thoughts to positive ones, you‘ll be learning optimism.

Say it aloud. Whenever you are feeling good about the future or confidence in yourself or others, say so out loud. Not only will you be sharing compliments and your happy expectations with others, who will surely benefit from hearing it, but also you will benefit from hearing yourself being positive and hopeful. Furthermore, be aware of your inner self-talk and compliment yourself when you do something well, when you make the extra effort, when you give of yourself, when you act out of kindness. Positive affirmations can help cultivate an optimistic outlook on life.

These few simple things, practiced and perfected over time, may just alter the way you look at everything. Soon, your own eyes will sparkle with hope and excitement in just that same magical way your child’s eyes do.

This Moment: Holding

Finally, be gentle with yourself. You already are optimistic, even if you don’t realize it. Here is the proof: By spending time caring for children, you are engaged in faithful, optimistic work every day, striving toward and cultivating a bright, beautiful future world.

 

(This article was originally published in the Little Acorn Learning June Enrichment Guide in 2011. Check out all their many wonderful offerings at Little Acorn Learning.

Hello, Summer

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Summer vacation is off to a good start! The school year ended at our Waldorf school with a beautiful ceremony for the graduating seniors and the symbolic moving of classrooms for the other grades. Lucas’s fourth grade packed up and moved to the fifth-grade classroom. On the last day, all the students lined up and shook the hands of all the teachers, who wished them a happy summer. It was a day full of celebration and a great exhalation. It felt like coming to the end of a favorite book—a little bittersweet. This year has been a marvelous journey for our whole family and we are so blessed to be where we are, who we are, and with these loving people around us.

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A lot of heavy, heartbreaking things have been and are going on these days among our friends. This has lead me to need to circle the proverbial wagons a bit. I am looking for ways to take care of us, myself included, in the hopes that our hearts will mend. And frankly Band-Aid solutions are totally acceptable, such as an extra glass of wine for parents, or the impulse-buy ice-cream maker, or babysitting extra kids just so we can squeeze and giggle with a beautiful baby for a while.

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Never underestimate the power of Baby Therapy.

I am also counting mercies, big and small:

• my son is loving swim team this summer
• my dog doesn’t chew on my kids’ toys
• my husband feeds us so well
• we have friends in the activities we’ve enrolled in
• my flowers bloom whether I feel happy or sad, and my hydrangeas are out of this world
• my new painting class starts this Thursday
• my little son is enjoying Clay Camp, even though he was afraid to try it at first
• we have received a dinner invitation for Friday
• I’ve had some time to visit some friends going through difficult times
• most of my cotton summer skirts still fit
• I’ve had time off from work this week to help us find a new rhythm
• my boys don’t have any cavities
• I got my Mother’s Day card from Lucas on the last day of school

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And so we enter another summertime. Here we are again, bumping into each other—with love, (im)patience, and familiarity—trying to figure out once again how to spend long summer days together, while adapting to all the growth and changes we’ve all undergone since the last time. We’ll get the hang of it soon. Hello, summer!

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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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