Posts Tagged ‘Waldorf’

Chasing Robins

Winter has been a season of reflection for us this year. With a birthday coming up soon, I have found myself thinking alot about the things that I do well as a parent, and things that I could improve on…and boy is there lots of room for improvement! One of the goals on my list this year is to be more present with my child. When you work from home, it is really easy to let everthing else get in the way between you and you children. When you wake up, you have dishes to do and breakfast to make. Pretty soon its naptime. By the end of naptime, dinner needs to get started and a few more emails need to go out. As I m laying down with him to sleep, sometimes the entire day went by without us playing even once! Each day I try and set aside as much time as I can to get my hands dirty, throw rocks, hunt for worms, and do whatever else a two year old would like me to. Since this past week in Seattle was absolutely beautiful, Liam and I have been spending our afternoons in the Arboretum literally chasing robins.

:: A peaceful park bench ::

:: a new beginning::

:: a very confused Robin::

:: a happy boy::

And yes – a little crafting during naptimes! After all – that two year old birthday is fast approaching. What better to make him feel like king for a day then his own crown! In case you’re wondering, the tutorial for this comes from my new favorite blog, Frontier Dreams.


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The Darkest Day

The end of December is a time for celebration. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, Hindu, or even an atheist, there is something about the lengthening of daylight that should put all of us in a good mood. This year, December 21st was the shortest day of the year. Each day from the 22nd of December until the Summer solstice, days will get longer.  While religious traditions are held near and dear to our hearts, what is often forgotten is that many of these celebrations are truly “festivals of light”,  and are celebrated during this time of year because they are historically tied to the winter solstice. 

Many people believe that the reason Emperor Constantine chose December 24-25 to commemorate the birth of Christ was because it fell at the same time as the Roman Feast of Sol Invictus (the Undefeated Sun). Sol Invictus had been considered the most important Roman god for the previous 200 years. The twenty-four days of Advent leading up to Christmas, in which a new candle is lit every Sunday, is further evidence of this connection. Being the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine had a strong desire to unify his empire. Its seems that one way he tried to do this is by combining both pagan and Christian traditions. (*fingers crossed* an evangelical doesn’t hunt me down and kill me for posting this!)

Hanukkah, which involves lighting a new candle every night, and Diwali are also feasts of light around the time of winter solstice.

In Mexico and Central America there are various feasts of light that involve bonfires. In one Guatemalan  festival, “Burning the Devil”, huge bonfires are built on December 12th to drive away the devil (the dark). There are several versions of these festivals throughout Central America. (Although I did read that they are curbing some of those festivals to help with climate change!)

In Sweden, on the morning of December 13th (the 13th was the solstice in an older Christian calendar), St. Lucia’s Day, a young woman is chosen as the light queen. She wears a white dress and wreath of lighted candles in her hair. And in Holland, on November 11th, children carry lanterns from house to house, singing songs in honor of St. Martin – who gave a poor man his half of his clothes on a dark and stormy night.

How does your family celebrate this time of year??? If you are interested in learing more about how other cultures celebrate this time of year, I found this interesting site

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One of my favorite things about reading blogs is finding out about so many great books and resources that are out there. I came across a book this week that is truly fabulous. It is a book full of folktales “for strong boys”. Every so often, finding a book makes me feel like I found a new best friend. I read it and instantly know that it will become a part of my life forever. The introduction to this book was so warm and inviting that I feel it must be shared. The author is a woman by the name of Jane Yolen. She has written more than 200 books for children and adults and have received some of the highest awards in children’s literature. She divides her time between Massachusetts and Scotland.

An Open Letter to My Sons and Grandson:

This book is for you. It is for you because this book did not exist when I was growing up. This book is for you because for the longest time boys didn’t know that being a hero was more than whomping and stomping the bad guy. They didn’t understand that brains trump brawn almost every time that being smart makes the  battle shorter, the kingdom nearer, the victory brighter, and the triumph greater.

This book is for you because “hero” is a word for winner, not whipper; for smarty, not smarty pants; for holding on, not holding back. “Hero” is about being clever, learning from your mistakes, being kind and compassionate, and finding good friends. Picking up a sword doesn’t make you a hero — sticking to your word does. ………

….. This book is for you because the stories have always been there, not only in folk traditions but in history as well, if you know where to look.

Think of heroes like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who taught us that one can win simply by refusing to bow down to power. Gandhi helped free India from British rule by showing the British that he would fight by resisting passively. ……Think of heros like Charles Darwin, who changed the way we think about the world simply through the power of his mind. As did Sir Issac Newton and Albert Einstein, who made greater differences in the world than Attila or Napoleon or Hitler…..

This book is for you not because I think one should never have to fight, but because I think the true heroes are the ones who solve their problems – and the problems of the world – without ever having to resort to force. The tongue is mightier than the sword. As is the pen.

This book is for you because I want you to be that type of hero.

While I left out a few paragraphs about silent heros, I imagine you get the point. This book has recently become a part of my life and I hope, over time,  it will become a part of Liam’s as well.

* If you happen to be the mother of a little girl, she writes a similar collection for them; it is called “Not One Damsel in Distress” – how lovely!


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May is one of my favorite months. Besides being the month of my birth, it is also home to May Day (my second favorite celebration of the month), Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, International Workers Day, and of course, Mother’s Day. With so many celebrations, where does one begin? Well, in the words of Julie Andrews, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” (are you singing yet??)


picture by Pete Ashton

May Day:While, unfortunatley, a far overlooked holiday in the states, the first day of May is what’s termed a cross-quarter day…meaning that it falls approximately halfway between an equnox and a solstice. In ealier times, it was considered to be the first days of summer. It’s origins take root in many countries in Europe, such as Scotland, Ireland, and the upper Baltic states. While each country has a particularly unique way of celebrating this day, many of the countries also share silimiar traditions. Some of the common activities include dances (yes, around a “maypole”), special musical performances, songs, and traditional foods. At a local Waldorf school here in Seattle, they attended a mid-day festival full of singing and dancing. Many of the children and parents were adorned with crowns and tiaras made of flowers, grapevines, and ivy. Other places in America, people filled “May baskets” with flowers and small treats to be left anonomsly on someone’s doorstep. Tradition has it that if you are caught leaving the basket, you owe the “catcher” a kiss! No matter what the tradition is, the people that gather are taking time  to celebrate the return of warmth, of light, and in many places….green 🙂  

International Workers Day: Also on the first of May, International Workers Day is a day to celebrate the social achievements of the international labor movement. It is also a day to bring awareness to the host of labor battles that still need to be fought. In America, it marks the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Square Bombings . Considered a “massacre”,   it was on this day that the Chicago police force took the lives of dozens of activists that were on strike, demanding an 8 hour workday. Although Labor Day is traditionally celebrated in America in September, it was out of a fear of riots that President Cleveland moved it the following year. Many countries around the world, however, still celebrate it on the first of May with thousands of demonstrations taking place each year.

Cinco de Mayo: The fifth of May is a regional Mexican war holiday often mistakenly thought to be Mexico’s Independence Day. While the actual date of Mexican Independence is September 15th, 1810,  it was on May 5, 1862 when a Mexican army of 4,000 claimed victory over an even larger number of French forces, that had not been defeated in over 50 years. It was General Seguin that led the Mexican army in what is known as the Battle of Puebla. When the battle was over, and the French were dispelled, making them not only less of a threat to Mexico, but to the US as well. Viva!

Mothers Day: While this date need no introduction, it is typically is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. In ancient times, this day was traditionally set aside as a day to worship female goddesses. However, even the more “modern” celebration of mothers dates all the way back to antiquity. The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870.  Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers. With the following, she called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood. It took over 40 years for the first state to adopt this day as a holiday, and my has it blossomed since then! While Mother’s Day is celebrated in over 40 countries around the world, each with their own traditions and  date (not all of them are in May), not all of them spend nearly what the United States does, where it is a 14 billion dollar industry. In some countries, like Sweden, their is an emphasis on giving to charity, not just to moms.

Memorial Day: It is on this day, the last Monday in May, where we honor all those who have given their lives fighting for the United States. Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in 1868 as a day to honor the sacrifices made by those during the Civil War. Those honoring the dead would actually “decorate” the graves of those who had fallen. For the next 100 years, there were arguments as to who the day should honor and what day it should be, but in 1971, Congress declared the last Monday of May an official holiday, as a tribute to those who died in all of America’s wars.

Any days I missed??

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One Year Old

Liam's Birthday RingYesterday was Liam’s first birthday. For many people, turning one is a big deal. A month or two before the day, I found myself  apathetic to this 365th day of Liam’s life. At first, I thought there must be something wrong with me. I thought, “Why am I not going crazy over his brithday?” I even started searching around on Etsy to see if the thought of buying him a gift would strengthen my birthday indifference. I eventually found some things that I thought he would like and sent a little note to the family, but still…nothing. No desire to throw him a birthday bash, bake him a cake, decorate the house….nothing.

Then, while reading  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara Patterson, I came across a beautiful idea that I would be also to share with Liam for years to come; a birthday ring. In a Waldorf-inspired classroom or home, a birthday ring  is a symbolic way to celebrate the anniversary of your child’s birth and show reverence for each year of their life.  There are many variations of how you can incorporate this into your child’s life, but traditionally the first step is to fill the ring with decorations in each of the holes. Those decorations can be choosen randomly, based on asthetic value, or they can be symbolic of your child’s journey throughout the year. Of course, I choose them to be symbolic. While thinking this over, I came up with another idea. I felt that it was important to incorporate my whole family in this endeavor. Since we live over 2,000 miles away from most of our family it was important to me that they were able to share this day with him.  I asked each of them to pick out a decoration that could be either a representaion of themselves as a part of Liam’s first year OR something that reminded them of Liam. This way, even though indirectly, they were here.

The next part of the ring ceremony is the birthday story. It is the story of their life for the past year. Each year, of course, the story gets longer as they grow bigger and stronger. As you get to the end of each year’s story, you take out a decoration, replace it with a candle, and light it. While it was totally optional whether or not my family would write a little something about their piece, although I hoped they would, I knew I wanted to. So last night I sat down and wrote the story of his first year. Since we are delaying the birthday ceremony until my mom gets here, it will be read to him on his pretend birthday later this month.

When I recieved all of the pieces from my family, it felt like Christmas. I immediately put it all together and took the picture you see above. When I looked at the ring, I felt as if they were all here with us. Almost instantly, I became overwhelmed with emotions. It made me realize how thankful I am that I have such a wonderful and thoughtful family. I know when Liam gets older, he will feel the same way. That is what I want Liam to know that birthdays are about….not just toys, parties and gifts, but something meaningful celebrating that year of your life with those you love.

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