Reusing

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I am pulling winter clothes out of the totes stockpiled in the garage, hoping that some of these pants will fit Asher now. The few pairs of pants in his dresser are now too small, and the trees’ brilliant hues are telling me that cold weather is coming. I try telling my boys that, but they still insist on shorts and bare feet, whenever they can get away with it.

I do this turning over of belongings several times a year, unearthing Lucas’s old items from years’ past and diving into bags of clothes outgrown by friends’ children. The process isn’t pretty. Things are dusty and worn. I never manage to make the garage pile neat again when I’m done, much to my husband’s dismay. I also inevitably find a bag or box of forgotten items we just accidentally missed out on reusing. Sometimes, timing is everything.

This suburban archaeology makes me realize how my boys are always growing, growing, growing—whether I am OK with it or not. I feel nostalgic when I touch some old things again, after several years of their being absent and in storage, and I sometimes feel sad when giving current now-too-small things away. However, mostly I feel connected and grateful whenever I do this. I know that families all over the world do this very thing, every season or two, hoping to eek a little more use out of this shirt, these socks, those pants. We pass items along to younger siblings or friends, or strangers, with the hope of being helpful. And this pleases me.

To all those who have passed well-loved and still-useful items to us, thank you. Your generosity keeps us warm.

Michaelmas: New Dragons

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Well, I really don’t like to go this long between posts. All I can say is that our lives have been remarkably full of all kinds of wonderful and challenging pursuits, including lots of work and play. While I enjoy writing here and really need to write here, sometimes I’m just too worn out.

Ah-hem

I will catch up a bit by saying that our Michaelmas festival at our Waldorf school was amazing. This year our son’s sixth-grade class created and manned the dragon—and what a dragon it was! Our new class teacher brought with her a host of new ideas about the Michaelmas dragon, its form, its symbolism, and how we might create it, interact with it, subdue it. I’ve been attending Michaelmas festivals for eight or so years and I’ve never seen a dragon like this one. Our students, teacher, and a team of clever parents engineered it.

For one thing, the dragon didn’t come lumbering onto the field at the appointed time. It spontaneously reared up out of the body of our community, out of ourselves.

Maybe I can show you …

Lucas at Michaelmas 2013

Each sixth grader carried a large Roman-style shield, silver gray on one side, gold on the other. They arrayed themselves around the circle, standing quietly among the other grades and spectators.

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The festival carried on as usual, with the twelfth grade performing a play for the people of the land: this time the Arthur sword-in-the-stone legend. The young villagers danced. When the alarm sounded, the valiant fourth graders offered the villagers protection with their newly made shields. The drum boomed. This is normally when a fearsome beast would approach the field.

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Instead, our sixth graders, dressed as Michaelic soldiers, began to march and form up into ranks. The terrifying drum continued to beat, but no one knew what to expect—no manxome foe was apparent. Saint George searched and searched the field of battle for his opponent. Where was the threat?

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And then a remarkable thing happened. The sixth grade moved again in response to loudly barked commands. They formed up into a Roman battle formation called the testudo, or tortoise formation. The shields covered their bodies, hiding them behind a great silver wall.

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From its hiding place, the dragon’s head emerged and the body joined up to menace George. A technology dragon was formed of chips and wire and lights, all silver and gleaming, and spitting smoke and ferocious noises!

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The dragon’s tail was wireframe with tech parts all over it.

It was a dragon representing a threat of our modern day, as we are frequently consumed by and controlled by our own technology. We are fighting, some of us, to maintain our humanity in the face of this changing world. Some are fearful of technology, some embrace it. It is both the miracle of today and a thorny problem. The important thing is to recognize it—how it is changing our communities, our families, ourselves—and confront it, and make sure that it is working for us, and not the other way around. This is how I see it, anyway.

Furthermore, I think it’s fascinating and timely. These sixth-grade children are on the brink of becoming (probably heavy) technology users. Perhaps some already are. Our son has dabbled in a very circumscribed way. As they mature, they will learn to use the Internet for research and for fun, join social networking sites, encountering friends and strangers online. They will enjoy video games and smartphones and YouTube and Skype—all of which are fun and exciting ways to connect in a global community. Navigating this will be new and strange and wonderful for all of us. And we must face it with courage and compassion.

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As usual, our strong, noble seniors surrounded the beast, and together with the sweet, hopeful spirits of our second graders, brought this dragon to its knees.

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What doesn’t show in my photographs is that our community was suffering mightily on this day, especially this senior class, for we very recently lost a student to suicide. It is a tragedy that none of them will forget, and this circle of brave young men and women was one shining soul short. I think no one ever anticipated that suicide and loss, and tremendous grief, would be a dragon to face on this beautiful day.

(Thank you, Hinmans, for the terrific video!)

Technology dragon with teacher

Afterward, the sixth grade class enjoyed the praise and congratulations of many. Some said it was the most interesting dragon they had seen. Many adults found it to be wonderful and thought-provoking. Our kids were somewhat unsure of this innovative design. Lucas even despaired that it was too weird, and wouldn’t it be better to have a normal dragon?

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Here they are, all tuckered out after the hot performance. I really love these kids. And we are all so very proud of them. Many thanks to our class teacher for encouraging all of us to embrace innovation and change. I think she is brilliant for getting this strong-willed class to march to her drum within days of her joining our class.

Here are the morning verse and afternoon verses by Rudolf Steiner that the sixth grade had been saying in preparation for Michaelmas. I especially love the second one:

Oh Michael,
I entrust myself to your protection
I write myself with your guidance
With all my heart’s strength
That this day may be come the
Reflection of
Your destiny-ordering will.
*
I bear my worry into the setting sun:
Lay all my cares into its shining lap.
Purified in Light
Transformed in Love—
They return as helping thoughts,
as forces rejoicing in deeds of
Sacrifice.

So, what do you think? Pretty different, eh? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Also, you can read about our past Michaelmas festivals here:

School Community Michaelmas Festival

Our Beautiful Michaelmas

Michaelmas Time

School Michaelmas Festival

Michaelmas in the Waldorf Kindergarten

E-Book for Equinox and Michaelmas Festivals

E-Book Cover

For any new readers, I would like to humbly mention that we have a beautiful e-book for sale that is perfect for this special time of year. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book. Eileen and I are really proud of it.

Here is 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

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

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.

Summer, Lately

Asher swimming with Papa. This summer Asher can swim!!

Lately, we have been enjoying:

Swimming at Grandma and Papa’s house. Last week I took a quartet of kids over there and met my brother’s family for an afternoon swim. We’d been having many days in a row over 100 degrees and we were all feeling fried. (I think it got up to 111 degrees one day.) Our home’s AC decided to die during this time, so we were fried and desperate.

Kids!

She called me Tia.

Little JuJu called me Tia for the first time. Tia means “Aunt” in Portuguese.

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Asher has found his flippers, so to speak. He finished one set of swimming lessons this summer and is now done with fear. Grandma Syd took him to eight lessons as a gift to both him and me. Best! And now he’s a fish, using his new skills joyously, without all the trepidation and worry he used to have. His strokes need work, of course, but I’m sooooooo delighted that he’s enjoying the water now.

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Independence Day. We opted to spend the holiday mostly in the pool, after a bit of work time.

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We made an Asian noodle salad for dinner, roasted sweet potatoes, and these red-white-and-blue fruit skewers with whipped cream. Simple. Satisfying. Done. It was about all we could handle.

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The boys were satisfied with huge packages of sparklers and some front-yard fireworks. The grandparents enjoyed their cavorting. The dog coped better than most dogs. All in all, it was a very relaxing afternoon!

Lucas made strawberry bread sans recipe. He also set the table with matching cloth napkins and put a lily in a vase. I love this boy!

A whole new kind of independence from our older son. This is a strawberry quick bread he made, without a recipe. He didn’t want one. He was only interested in doing it all on his own, so we let him. When the bread was done, he set the table, placed a lily in a vase, and put out matching cloth napkins. The bread was good, though we agreed that the recipe needs some tweaking, such as more baking powder and longer baking.

My son now dries and stores herbs from our garden. He learned how in gardening class. This is lemonbalm.

This independence is also manifesting in his solo runs; herb harvesting, drying, and storing (he now has several glass jars full of dried herbs in his room); and various craft projects, like this star made of spent daylily flower stalks, which I completely adore. He made two and they adorn the side and back fences of our garden.

My son made this pretty star for me out of spent, dry daylily flower stalks. I love it!

This summer, Lucas has been sent on his bike with a backpack to the supermarket to buy things we need for the first time, and has traveled to and from friends’ homes on his own. He is itching for more freedom, too. Today we had to talk about not leaving the house early in the morning for a run without telling us. Recently, he made a jigsaw puzzle for his brother—out of wood—using his 4-in-1 woodworking tool!

So, all in all, I would say that, lately, things are good. We are all growing and stretching into new skills and new patterns. I have new clients. Ian has new and exciting pursuits. The summer days are ticking by, but there’s still plenty of time for books and boredom, play dates and deadlines, camping trips and day camp.

Tomorrow marks passage of the first month of summer vacation. I’d say we’re doing it right.

Midsummer!

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I am the Sun—
And I bear with my might
The earth by day, the earth by night.
I hold her fast, and my gifts bestow
To everything on her, so that it may grow:
Man and stone, flower and bee,
All receive their light from me.
Open thy heart, dear child, to me,
That we together one light may be.

—Ch. Morgenstern

King Sun he climbs the summer sky
Ascending ever higher.
He mounts his gay midsummer throne,
All made of golden fire.

His flowing mantle, flowing free,
His shining gifts he showers
All golden on the earth and sea,
On men and beasts and flowers.

—J. Aulie

Two poems for this day, this beautiful awe-inspiring day that I have come to appreciate more and more. Somehow, for me this day is full of magic and hope and possibility.

The solstice is the peak moment of the year, the explosion of light and growth. It is the tippy-top of the year’s roller coaster’s path. On the summer solstice we feel an expansion of spirit, the exhalation of breath, and precious moments of busy, joyful living that somehow include relaxation and fun as its top priorities. It doesn’t even seem to matter how much work there is to do, or whether we sit in a cubicle or attend summer classes or dig ditches—this sky-splitting, star-bursting longest day has a kind of dreamy half-remembering quality, a laziness, a whisper that seems to say, “Take heed! The moment is NOW. Don’t miss it! Revel!”

And somehow, people seem to hear it. No other time of year feels this way. Midsummer is special. Spend it however you will, but LIVE IT.

This year, I am realizing a longtime dream of gathering many of my beloved friends in the woods this weekend. I’m hoping for a solstice bonfire and feast to make the gods proud. We will splash and play and get our feet dirty.

And because I feel if there’s ever an instant when magic is real and wishes come true, it is on Midsummer night. And so, here is my wish:

May we grow and flourish, may our roots dig deep and may our minds reach for the illuminating sun.
May we expand our consciousness to include others in our sphere of concern—and not just our loved ones, but also the strangers we interact with every day and all those people on the other side of the world whom we will never meet.
May we learn to see beauty everywhere, for it is there if only we look. Even struggles and tragedy have a kind of beauty.
May we seek to alleviate the suffering of all beings, even ourselves.
May we strive, even though we sometimes fail, and may we fail big and fast to maximize our learning and increase our compassion.
May we hold to our values, but never allow our ideas to petrify.
May we appreciate all that we are with every inhalation, and all that we have with every exhalation.
May we play, and laugh, and hug, and kiss, and dance, and sing—because for what other purpose are we here?
May we love with all our hearts until our flesh becomes one with the earth.
Blessed be.

Happy Solstice!

 

 

Tutorial: Make an Herbal Dream Pillow for St. John’s Day

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This article is excerpted from our Midsummer Festival E-Book.

Herbs harvested at Midsummer and during the Feast of Saint John (June 24, 2013) are said to be especially magical. Certain herbs, such as mugwort, laurel, sage, or marigold petals, are believed to give prophetic dreams if placed under a pillow at night! Will it work, do you think? Wouldn’t it be fun to find out?

It’s best to use dried herbs for your dream pillow. You’ll need two squares of muslin, two squares of yellow cotton fabric (about 5” by 5”), sewing machine, needle and thread, dried herbs, and a hot iron.

Cut your muslin squares to be about ½ inch smaller than your yellow squares. Sew around the muslin squares, leaving a 2 inch gap. Cut the corners off, but don’t cut into the stitching (this makes the pillow easier to turn inside out). Now turn your pillow inside out and iron it flat. Spoon in your dried herbs. Use a needle and thread to stitch up the hole. Now make the yellow pillow case. Put your “right” or pretty sides together. Sew around the three sides and the corners of the fourth side using a ¼ inch seam. Cut off the inside-out corners as before. Turn the pillow right side out. Use a pencil to make the corners look nice. Iron the yellow pillow case flat. Insert the inner muslin pillow into the yellow case. Turn in ¼ inch seam at the opening and iron it. Now sew up the fourth side, using a top stitch.

Now place your herbal dream pillow under your head before bedtime. Perhaps you’ll dream of the future! Or perhaps you’ll have amazing, fanciful dream that you can write down in a dream journal or draw a picture of in the morning.

Midsummer Festival E-Book

For more fun midsummer crafts, herb lore, Waldorf verses, handwork, and ways to celebrate Midsummer and St. John’s Day, please check out the Midsummer Festival E-Book by yours truly, Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs, and the fabulously talented Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning. Click the link or the cover photo above to go directly to the page to find out more.

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Summertime is here! I often wonder how in the world I’m going to fill 13 consecutive weeks of “summer vacation,” and so I tend to start planning early. I’d like to offer up the Midsummer Festival E-Book as a way of filling summertime with festivities and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. My coauthor, Eileen Straiton, and warmly I invite you to check out our e-book, and please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now Available!

This wonderful Midsummer Festival E-Book, 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 of 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
  • Read How to Create Daytime and Nightime 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

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Last Days of School

We’re in the final stretch of the school year. My kids are about to change overnight from Kindergartner and fifth grader to first grader and sixth grader. These last few days at school are spent packing up the classroom and moving items into the sixth grade room, horsing around, and enjoying lots of time with friends. The Kindergartners will spend as much of the next two days as possible outside. On Friday we’ll go to an annual end-of-year party at the home of one of Lucas’s classmates, where we always celebrate with style and great joy.

In a way, it’s no small accomplishment that they’ve completed this year. Their challenges may seem small compared to those that adults experience, but they are significant for the children.

My little Asher has grown from a somewhat shy baby to a confident, clowning boy of the world in the two years he’s been in Kindergarten. He is highly social, a great listener and storyteller, a good friend, a very fast runner, a heartthrob, and a proficient helper. He has mad cleanup skills now, thanks to Kindergarten, and his art has moved lightyears ahead of where it was even just a few months ago. I see so many signs in him that he is ready, that he’s “graduating” and moving on to first grade.

Yesterday we gathered in the Kindergarten yard to celebrate and watch the “olders” from both the White Rose and the Red Rose Kindergarten classes join together with their new first-grade teacher and ceremonially walk over to the first-grade classroom.

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The parents created an arch over the walkway and the new teacher, Miss H, led them under it.

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Many of the children were all smiles, several were nervous, several were super goofy; mine was, for this moment at least, acting jaded when he saw me and Daddy. But I saw him scampering along with the rest of the children, clearly enjoying himself.

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They crossed the campus to the first grade, little ducklings all in a row.

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It’s exciting to see these kids growing and changing, some of whom we’ve known since they were babies. This group has been playing together for a long time. And for Ian and me, there are so many new friends to make!

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We parents got to wait and visit with each other until the “rising first graders” returned. Of course, the current first graders aren’t actually ready to relinquish their classroom, and our kids came back to their yard and classrooms to finish out the week.

Scrapbook page for departing class teacher. So hard to put 5 years of growth and precious experiences on one page.

Lucas, at 11, is finishing up a glorious, fifth-grade year, what some call the “golden year” of the school-age child. He reveled in woodworking, learned to enjoy orchestra class and playing his violin, improved in all subjects, and ached all year for their study of the Greeks to begin and then soaked up every morsel of it once it did. He trained his body all year to compete in the Pentathlon, and has continued to do so since the big day. He is every day more independent and competent and it’s a both joy to see and a huge help in my life. I’ve been experiencing some nostalgia lately because I’ve been going through old photos and working on our end-of-year gift to his departing class teacher, our beloved Ms. D, who is retiring this year. My how these fifth-graders have changed!

And my son is eager for new, exciting experiences, more alone time, more time away from his little brother, and more responsibility (specifically when and only when he wants it). I am highly cognizant of this and am working to find him experiences that stretch his previous limits. I’m thinking of it as measured risk-taking.

And so, summertime is almost here. I can see it in all the children. They are boundless and expansive and loud, as if their spirits are no longer contained within their bodies. The teachers look both pleased and tired. The parents … well, there is a kind of “oh, I can’t wait for summer” on their lips or behind their eyes. And I kind of get it.

Now, in the interest of honest, full disclosure, I admit to feeling great trepidation about the coming 13 weeks of summer vacation. 13. 13 weeks. That’s a lot of days. I always feel this way at the end of the school year. The eagerness I felt for summer as a child is very different from how I feel now that I’m a parent. I have some excitement and daydreams and some wonderful plans for us, but I also know that it won’t be a huge bowl of cherries every day.

The boys will be engaged in any number of wonderful activities and play. Swim and summer camp and weekend camping. They will be blessed with the “gift of boredom” and plenty of nature time and unscheduled time. They will do chores. They will bicker and negotiate and hurt each other and cooperate—all of which is essential to both their growth as humans and their relationship as brothers.

We will make the most of it, the best we can. And we will learn so much. We will all soak up all that Summer has to give us, and we will level up.

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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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