Valentine’s Day Makings and Musings

Making valentines #waldorf

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! I just wanted to spread some love around. Asher made valentines for four of his classmates last week. His teacher splits the class into groups; so far, he’s never had to make valentines for the whole class.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines he had to make unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine's Day in cursive, from Asher, done.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine’s Day in cursive, from Asher, done. When I asked him if there was anything more he could do to make them special, he added “You’re cool!” on the backs.

Asher asked me the other night about the path of hearts, which is something I’ve been doing for years. I put a whole bunch of paper hearts on the floor leading from their bedrooms to our kitchen table. I’m touched that he remembered it.

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We’re enjoying a three-day weekend now, which for my children will turn into a whole week off school. Unfortunately, Ian’s not feeling well today. But we had our special Valentine’s Day breakfast nonetheless. Heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and honey vanilla Greek yogurt and eggs. They all got pretty chocolates.

Performance at Rudolf Steiner College as a the opening of the teachers' conference

After that, Lucas went to Rudolf Steiner College to perform “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” with his eighth-grade class as a way of opening the teachers’ conference. They sang beautifully! Roughly:

“Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
Now Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way in the middle of the air

Now the little wheel run by faith
And the big wheel run by the grace of God
In the wheel and a wheel hurling
Way in the middle of the air”

Flowers for my loves! Happy Valentine's Day!

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We wandered through the biodynamic farm on the campus for a few minutes, while I snapped pictures. It’s just a gorgeous day.

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I spent a sweet moment with my gorgeous son, who is truly a joy to be with most of the time and most especially when we’re alone.

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And then there was a bunch of normal stuff: basketball practice, and Asher playing with the neighborhood kids, and laundry, and Ian went out to run errands. I hope he’s feeling better!

Ian, I love you. Every day. Always.

Here’s my little prayer to St. Valentine or Aphrodite or Kamadeva or Freya or Hathor or Inanna or Oshun or Min or …

Whoever you are, whomever you love, may you find some way to connect with someone on this day. May we all realize that we are stronger together than alone, braver with friends at our backs, kinder when we remember that we are loved. May we love with courage, constancy, patience, and trust. May our love inspire us, ignite our creativity and dreams, make space for play and peace, catalyze our will to do good and be generous, and burn away the dross and drudgery of our lives. May we see the good in others, not their flaws, and may we extend that same love and forgiveness to ourselves.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m going out to plant irises.

 

Asher’s Ninth Birthday

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My beautiful sunbeam, my little pirate king, my wizard, my imp, my healer, the song of my heart and laughter embodied—my Asher Donovan is 9! My sweet boy had a birthday on the last day of January. He asked for a Labyrinth party.k2-_03b88201-873f-45f8-9f40-e8682d75aab3.v3

Asher and Ian had watched Labyrinth together the day after David Bowie died, and the film captivated our son. And so, for the first time, he had friends over to watch a movie with us—a 30-year-old movie starring a beloved 69-year-old rock star who just passed away. (Farewell, Starman!)

Our invitation to his Waldorf school friends included a link to the Common Sense Media website’s rating and review, so families could decide whether their kids were ready for this 1986 PG film. To my great surprise, every child we invited was allowed to come.

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With many demands on my time and a determination to take this one easy, we spent just a little time the day of the party decorating with items we already had. We were trying to suggest a labyrinth with symbols from the movie in this table centerpiece.

Centerpiece for Labyrinth birthday party

Weirdly, we only borrowed two glass globes from grandma, which used to be curtain rod finials, I think. All of this other weird stuff was already in our home! CitiBlocs served for labyrinth walls nicely!

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Asher enjoyed setting up more labyrinth decor on top of our cubbies, and we found assorted gargoyles and knights in armor and chess pieces to be labyrinth denizens. The kiddos arrived and we set them down to watch the adventure of Sarah, baby Toby, Jareth the Goblin King, Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus and loads of lovely Jim Hensen Creature Shop puppets.

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What’s funny is that nearly all of our nine guests had previewed the movie with their parents, and so they simply could NOT stop talking throughout. “Watch this! Watch this! They fall into the bog of eternal stench!” “Don’t worry! She gets her baby brother back.”

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After the movie, Asher’s friends gave him loads of wonderful presents. Art supplies, books to read, sketch books, games, Legos. Just what an enterprising and artistic 9-year-old needs. Thank you cards are still forthcoming—please, nobody hold your breath.

Labyrinth birthday dessert. He didn't want a cake this year.

Asher didn’t want a cake this year. He asked for ice cream instead. We served it with graham cracker labyrinth walls, sprinkles of the children’s choice, and gummy “goblins.”

Muppet Goblin Lollipops

We thanked our guests and sent them home with goblin lollies I made with stuff on hand. They’re more like muppets than goblins, but whatever.

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The next day was Asher’s actual birthday. This is the very picture of a modern 9-year-old full of vim and vigor, silly jokes, giggles, bounces, mad skills, mercurial moods, and dimples. I can’t possibly explain how much I adore this child.

He got even MORE pressies from Mom and Dad: a beautiful book called Tolkien’s World: A Guide to the Peoples and Places of Middle-Earth, exactly the type of magical book that Asher creates in his many sketchbooks, with maps, monsters, battles, runes, weapons, etc. We gave him the much anticipated sequel to Nnewts by Doug TenNapel, and the first two Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books. Plus Legos. Chima, naturally.

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We had a lovely birthday breakfast—Asher’s choice was pancakes and strawberries, with eggs. (They all suffer my camera with much patience, see?)

Asher's first viewing of A New Hope 1/31/16 A privilege of 9-year-olds
Finally, that afternoon, we gathered with friends for another party: Asher’s first viewing of Star Wars: A New Hope. Turning 9 is a little coming-of-age moment in our family, you see. We made Lucas wait until he was 9 to see Star Wars. A few years back, we threw a surprise party and watched the movie with him and a bunch of friends. Well, we couldn’t quite make this gathering for Asher a surprise because he’d heard all his life about Lucas’s 9-year-old Star Wars party.

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To our great delight, Thomas and Jami hosted a viewing party in their comfy home and we all enjoyed the film anew on a big beautiful screen. (Gosh, it’s beautiful!) Asher laid on a Tauntaun sleeping bag, naturally, and we had three Storm Troopers in attendance. I’m so grateful for this moment.

I’m probably going to sound like a crazy woman here, but this film means something to me. This first Star Wars film was a seminal cultural moment, a point when the world shifted. It’s the hero’s journey, it’s loyalty, friendship, good versus crystal-clear unambiguous evil, spaceships and hyperdrive, our first (and only, for a long time) badass princess, robots, cowboys with laser guns. What’s not to love? But it was also the FIRST exposure we had to this kind of mythic storytelling on the big screen. It fueled our imaginations, our games, even our career choices. It inspired our generation’s favorite brand of entertainment. Our children may not love it the same way we do, or connect with it the same, and that’s OK. They have sooooooo much to choose from; theirs is a world where any story ever made is available at any time. They’ll have their own myths. But for us, as children, watching Luke, Han, and Leia face down Vader and his terrifying goons was important. Somehow, for me, it still is important. And we just had to share it with Asher, hopefully at the moment he can best appreciate it (nine year change and all). OK. Enough of that.

Custom-made resin blaster. A hade-made birthday gift to Asher from Sandy. It's his first toy gun.

Jami bought Asher a huge Storm Trooper figure as a present. Jaleen brought him a Darth Vader bionicle. There were other gifts that passed by before I could even take note (sorry). And Sandy, dear Sandy, handmade this custom blaster for Asher. She cast it out of resin, I think, and hand-painted it. It’s beautiful and he’s over the moon about it. (My rules about no gunplay in the house still apply.)

There you have it. An unforgettable birthday for a one-of-kind precious boy, who might just be the luckiest boy in the world.

Imbolc and Midwinter

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We live in California’s great Central Valley, where arguably, we have a kind of fake winter. We put up symbols of deep winter, and cope pretty easily with inconveniences like fog and brief freezes that kill garden plants.

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Imbolc, or Candlemas, if you prefer, marks the middle point of winter.  Signs of spring are always welcome no matter where you live, don’t you think? The lengthening days bring a bit of relief from gray winter doldrums. Not much of a “proper” winter, truth be told. As evidence, I present this daffodil, which bloomed on January 26.

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These two lambs were born this morning at our school’s farm. Farmer Steve estimates they arrived without help at around 6:30 this morning. I would have missed them completely, as they were kind of hunkered down and resting, but Farmer Steve pointed them out to us. We couldn’t get very close, so it’s not a great shot. But there they are, small, briefly feeble, and perfect.

“The source of increasing light and heat is Brigid. On Imbolc, she moves across the land, bringing the promise of renewal and the return of joy. The name Imbolc means “in the belly,” and Oimelc means ‘ewe’s milk.’ The fertility of sheep and the abundance of their life-sustaining milk are at the root of this holy day. The dangerous part of winter, when sheep might die, when lambs might freeze, has passed. The tribe has survived.” This is from Tending Brigid’s Flame, by Lunaea Weatherstone.

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I wrote a bit about Brigid and Imbolc in the past here.

 

Atticus the llama and his wooly friends

(This handsome fellow is Atticus the llama. He looks after the sheep.)

 

Older lamb, about a month old

The other three lambs at school were born about a month ago; they’re looking robust and strong. Weatherstone says, “Brigid is the life force embodied. Brigid is the protector of all newborn creatures, and she blesses new mothers with abundant milk and the instinctive knowledge of nurturance.”

“Brigid of the lambs,
Brigid of gentleness,
Brigid of the new milk,
I welcome you in.”

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Everywhere there is a quickening, it seems. My plants are beginning to grow again. The sun is shining brighter, stronger, with more vigor than before. Snowdrops and jonquils are coming up, and soon the forsythia and quince will be blooming.

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Today I discovered we had the all stuff to make a Brigid’s cross. I’ve wanted to make one for a long time, but never have. After dinner, Lucas sat down and helped me do it, and we talked a bit about Brigid, and why I’m interested in her. It went kind of like this, “So, for me, as a woman, observing and existing in a world that is usually trying to erase or omit the contributions of girls and women, and seeing religions either actively not liking us and saying we’re bad, or thinking so little of us that they ignore us completely, for me, the goddesses like Brigid are interesting, meaningful, and important.” He said something like, “Yeah, I can see why you might feel that way.” And he tied on the thread to make the cross arms.

Making our first Brigid's cross.

First Brigid's cross

I thought it might also be nice to provide some winter treats for the birds. This seems like a nice activity for Imbolc. But we’re going to have to do it tomorrow. Also, if I am really ambitious tomorrow, I may clean out my fireplace. “This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the sun. It is also a festival of light and fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches, and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth,” according to Cunningham’s Wicca book.

Happy Imbolc to all! May you find inspiration and renewal in the day, and find nourishment for your dreams and your energies for new challenges quickening.

I’ll write more later about Asher’s 9th birthday, which totally consumed our weekend with festivities and delights aplenty.

Technology Is Awesome

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My 13-year-old son has had a desktop computer since Christmas, Krita illustration software for a week, and a Wacom tablet for drawing for two days. He is talented, motivated, and hard-working, and I am so impressed with his ability and enthusiasm. A million thanks to my parents for the computer, and to Thaemos for the Wacom tablet.

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We are thrilled with his foray into digital art-making. We have made him promise not to abandon his graphite, charcoal, markers, acrylics, and oil paints. I will post more if and as he lets me. (He is a fairly a private guy these days.)

To those who worry that not putting devices in the hands of toddlers will somehow cause them to fall irrevocably behind the technology curve, I am here to say, honestly it takes young people who have had a delayed intro to computers (and plenty of hands-on, real-world experience à la Waldorf school) mere moments to catch up and surpass their elders.

 

Too Late for Halloween?

Pirate!

Yes, I’m quite sure it is entirely too late to post about Halloween. It’s December for Christmas’s sake! However, once you look at these pictures, you might, just might, forgive me. I MUST post these shots because they’re so completely adorable. Therefore, I temporarily interrupt our regular December programming for this spooky flashback to October shenanigans.

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You see, we build our geodesic dome in Thomas and Jami’s yard. And then we put a rock band in it.

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The debut performance of Death In Bloom, to be precise. And they were wonderful.

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And sexy. And terrifying. And we invited all our friends to come out and party.

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Friends new and old, tall and small, came to play with us Halloween night. We had costume contests with many winners of gigantic TROPHIES!

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Lovely ladies!

Competition was stiff, as you can see!
(Cute Costumed Kids + Giant Redecorated Sports Trophies = Winning Halloween)

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Jami was a magnificent warrior hostess, as usual!

Lana and Archer

Ian and I went as Stirling Archer and Lana Kane—Danger Zone! Our kids were like, “who are you guys supposed to be?” So then we knew we were still good parents because our children have never seen “Archer,” even though it’s the funniest (and wrongest) thing ever. (Not for children.)

I think I owe Ian one, considering it was Halloween and he had to wear a stupid gray suit and tie. But he made it more fun with costume changes: the tactical turtleneck outfit and the light blue Cuban shirt too! (I am very very sorry I didn’t get more pics.)

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But whatever. It was all worth it to wear these thigh-high boots and a shoulder holster with a 45 pistol. (Toy) I’m not sorry.

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Asher was a badass pirate. Clearly.

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(With beautiful English roses in his cheeks, but don’t tell him.)

The scariest cupcakes ever

Janelle, Frank, and Joyce made these glorious, awful, horrifying mouth cupcakes. I couldn’t taste them. Too scary for me.

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And the party went late, late, late (though our boys went home with parents more responsible than us). S’OK. I am quite comfortable with that.

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November dawned beautifully, if a little headachy. Ahem.

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When the silliness was done, we tore it all down again. Piece by color-coded piece. Working together, which is my favorite way to work.

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Many many many thanks to our intrepid hosts, to our work crew, to our guests who came from near and far, and some from out of our decades-ago past, in costumes too numerous and magical to photograph all of them. (Also, generally speaking, I put my camera away when it gets dark.)

So, this next stuff is part of the reason I had to wait to post this. Cuz I have to double-check about posting his picture, you know. This guy, below, made the most amazing wind-up man. Lucas created this steampunky costume for Halloween and the school dance. He won the costume contest at the dance!

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uploadSo proud of my gorgeous son!

Every time I look at these shots of my handsome boy, I feel like swooning. Which is probably exactly what he would prefer I NOT say here or anywhere. OK. Never mind that.

So, that’s just a sliver of the Best Halloween Ever Until Next Year.

Life is complicated, and juicy, and rarely fits neatly into a predictable, comfortable order of events. But we try to keep it straight, and we fail, and we try again. Fa-la-la-la!

Now, back to jingle-bells and Christmas cookies and Solstice preparations and all that lovely stuff.

With love,

S

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.

Jumping into Summertime

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It’s here! Glorious Summer is here! Actually, we are now starting our second week of the boys’ summer vacation. These are days full of lovely things, like swimming and day camps,

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School buddies at camp.

Perfect moment at pond's edge

nature walks with friends,

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and family,

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swimming pool horsing around,

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a few runs at our river parkway, which I try to accomplish mostly in the shady areas,

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some gaming with Daddy and neighborhood friends, both D&D and LOADS of Magic the Gathering,

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and this. Lucas has been in a junior lifeguard camp (with three friends from school) for the last two weeks at Folsom Lake. This photo is from the tryouts day. I’ve been BLESSED by another mom, an angel who is doing most of the driving to and from camp, and so I only have photos from tryouts. The kids have been trained in CPR and choking rescue, gone river rafting, practiced water rescues, and I don’t even know what else! Their days are full of physical conditioning—running, core exercises, push ups, swimming—and these kids come home TIRED and sore. It’s great! We’re packing enormous lunches and liters of water every day to keep Lucas fueled and hydrated.

My harpies woke me up this morning in the wee hours. I started thinking about all the usual worries, and then a new one struck: This week, Tuesday through Thursday, late, Lucas is going to Santa Cruz to do open-water lifeguard training and to compete in a lifeguard competition. He is going along with our dear friends because Ian and I cannot go with him. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’re very happy he gets to go. However, last night I started worrying about my little son in the great big ocean without my being nearby. I started spinning on that: What if something happens to him?!

Then I realized he would be surrounded by pro lifeguards, and I went back to sleep.

Asher is doing a day camp with some buddies at Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which is a jewel in the middle of our city. From 9 to noon for ten days, he gets to do crafts, hike, learn about wild creatures, our local ecosystem, go fishing, go rafting, and more. Lucas did this camp when he was younger and it was wonderful. It really helps that two of Asher’s buddies (Star Destroyer and Blackout) are doing this with him. Asher’s nickname is Shadow Sting. How cute is that?

Last week, Ian and I got to see Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeur show. It was deliciously funny and I laughed until I felt amazing!

 

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!

Dear Asher

Dear Asher,

I know you are feeling a little sad because Lucas and I went on a trip. It’s normal to feel lonely and to miss the people you love when they are away. We will miss you and Daddy, too.

Don’t worry. We will be back on Friday evening. That’s only two sleeps, and three days away. Daddy and your grandmas will take good care of you.

Wednesday you will go to school. Grandma Sydney will pick you up at 2:20. Daddy will come and get you when he’s done with work. I bet he will read you some Hiccup.

Thursday the same thing will happen. You will go to school, Grandma Sydney will pick you up at 2:20. Daddy will get you after work.

Friday you will go to school. Grandma VoVo will pick you up after school. Daddy will get you after work, and Mommy and Lucas will be home that night, probably around dinnertime (5:00 or 6:00)!

I will call you each afternoon or evening and talk to you. And I will send you and Daddy all my love.

Please take care of Solstice for me. Please put fresh water in his water dish and give him lots of love. He might be a little lonely. Also, please take care of Daddy too. He will need extra snuggles.

I love you, Asher. I’ll be home soon. Be brave.

Mama

 

 

May Day Music

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On May 3, our Waldorf school celebrated May Day. It was a perfect day. Not to hot, not overcast and cool. The community turned out to celebrate the turning seasons, schoolwork in full blossom, and the soon-to-graduate eighth-grade class. It was marvelous and inspiring, as it is every year.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

This year, our second graders had a part to play. They played a song on their flutes and sang, standing all in a large ring around the may pole. They were the prelude to the eighth-grade may dancers. My sweet Asher has learned to play the pentatonic flute!

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I’ve said this before, but these children are breathtakingly beautiful to me.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

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Second graders

They played and sang beautifully with movements to go with their songs. I’m so proud of them. You can tell some are very happy to be performing, and others hang back a bit, a little shy to be in the spotlight with the school community watching them. They are growing so fast.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

Honestly, I cannot get enough of this gap-tastic smile Asher has right now. It slays me every time he flashes it. I kind of hope his new tooth never comes in.

My littlest love at May Day

I love a boy with flowers in his hair.

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The seventh grade played the music for the eighth-grade may dancers. Most were on soprano, alto, or tenor recorders, with one boy on tambourine and another teacher accompanying them on guitar. Lucas was fond of saying they had to play the same difficult, quick song 86 times. I try to remind Lucas that he can do all kinds of things I never learned to do. (My son plays piano, flute, recorder, and violin!) These kids are more impressive with each passing month. Next year, it will be their turn to don white clothes and flower crowns and dance! Be still my heart!

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Alas, I had a major camera failure and didn’t get any pictures of the beautiful dancers this year. Something is wrong with my Canon, either in the battery charging process or else the camera is draining the battery rapidly. I suspect that perhaps it’s not really off when I flip the switch to turn the camera off. I need to take it to a shop to be cleaned, checked, and repaired, but that will have to wait. (I daydream often about getting a new, better camera.) My trusty phone ran out of available space too, so, these are the shots I got. C’est la vie!

Much love to these musicians of all ages, to the dancers, to their parents, and the school community, who together support this amazing festival every year. It fills me up and makes me hopeful and happy every time I see it.

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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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