Springtime

I've been thinking a lot about tradition, about my own cultural heritage, and what I can carry forth with me and pass on to my children. How can we thread together a story of where we came from? Many of us in America have recent ancestors who sailed across seas to start new lives in a new land. Those who don't had their cultural traditions severely disrupted in other ways. I feel called to bring tradition to my family, to bring alive stories that have been told for countless generations, but my relationship to the religion and culture of my ancestors is shaky, and my knowledge limited.

We ushered in spring this year with an egg hunt and meal with friends and family. Next week we're hosting a May Day gathering for a group of homeschool friends. These gestures of gratitude and celebration connect us to our landscapes and our loved ones.

Then again, spring comes whether or not we mark the occasion. Perhaps our path forward is obvious. Nature is the anchor and the teacher, where we came from and who we are.

Signs of Autumn

I spent what felt like the whole weekend switching out summer clothes for winter. That may sound like an exaggeration, but in a six person household, it really is a huge job. The leaves outside are changing, there's a chill in the air, and we've been wearing long sleeves for a week or so now. It was time. Each year, I find that our seasonal rhythms come more naturally and feel more comforting. This is our second year celebrating Michaelmas and the kids have already integrated it into their seasonal expectations. Will we make dragon bread? Let's light the dragon candle! Don't forget to draw a new picture on the chalk board, Mama! I enjoy these rituals as much as they do, and am grateful for the extra push from them to follow through on everything involved.

This past week, we focused all our lessons around Michaelmas. On Monday, I told the story, which they pretty much remember word for word from last year, but love hearing again and again. On Tuesday, we worked in their main lesson books, drawing a picture with beeswax crayons and writing out a sentence. On Wednesday, we acted out the story. We set the scenes throughout the playroom and got all the characters into place. I narrated the story while the girls acted it out. On Thursday, which was the actual day of Michaelmas, we were planning to go to the Festival of Courage at the local Waldorf School Eli attends, but it was cancelled due to rain. It was still a wonderful day though, as we had Nature School in the afternoon and came home for a cozy evening of gluten-free dragon bread and lentil soup.

Wishing you all a wonderful week! Happy New Year to those who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah!

[10/5/16] The Waldorf School of Baltimore rescheduled the Michaelmas Festival for yesterday and we were able to go! I thought I'd add some pictures here to keep everything in one place. :)

Do you see Michael up on the roof above?!

After all the Michaelmas storytelling and celebrating of last week, the girls were thrilled to experience the festival at the Waldorf School of Baltimore yesterday. The children all looked and sounded so lovely, singing and acting out the story in their brightly colored costumes. We have a few more years while Eli is still going to school there to take part in these festivals, so I want to appreciate it while we can! Or maybe they will eventually set up some kind of program for homeschoolers so we can continue to take part! Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

a birthday picnic, some reflections, and a dream

I turn thirty-three years old tomorrow. Thirty-three? That doesn't seem right. It's funny how we construct identities for ourselves. Identities that have to do with age are especially foolish. Time marches on, we all know this. But somehow I have, for the last seven years, identified as a young mom. Partly because Sheldon is 16 years older than me and partly because when I had Fiona at 25, I was the first of my close friends to start a family. But thirty-three is solidly planted in the thirties, and the thirties are solidly planted in the middle of life, and one stepson and three daughters in, I am solidly planted in parenthood. I am here and this is the life I've made for myself. Many of my biggest decisions–who to marry, how many children to have-have been made. This feels good, but also different. All these years, I have somehow continued to feel new to the world, but I don't feel new anymore. I feel capable and experienced and beaten and bruised and wise and aware and very much of this world.

But at thirty-three, there are still thousands of choices left to make and dreams to be had. After eleven years in our beloved Fell's Point with Sheldon and fifteen years total in the city, we are moving back to the woods and fireflies and open spaces of my childhood. We haven't found the perfect home yet, but we will, and it will have trees to climb and a little creek and a rope swing. It will have a kitchen window overlooking a garden and a few chickens. The next phase of our lives will be spent building our own homestead, trying to live a more sustainable life, and rediscovering our place in the natural world. I'm guessing I'll feel new again in no time.

Thanks to my Mama for the birthday picnic!

Grateful

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I could easily spend the rest of the evening (or the rest of my life, really) finding the right words to express the gratitude in my heart—for a present, supportive and loving family, for nourishing food on our table, for the gift of spending every hour of my life with people I love—but I am short on time in the most beautiful way I can imagine. I have a baby downstairs who needs nursing, children who need feeding, and a home that needs tending, so a simple Thank You will have to do. A thousand times, Thank You.

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I hope you all had a peaceful Thanksgiving with the ones you love.

Fiona's Art Shop

We invited family over this weekend to celebrate Fiona's birthday with a morning of food and art. Fiona has been planning and dreaming for months about selling her artwork at an art fair, so for her birthday, we made it happen.

I bought some blank cards and envelopes, set out our usual art supplies of graphite pencils, colored pencils, beeswax crayons and watercolors, then Fiona, along with her siblings and cousins, created designs on the blank cards. When they were finished with their cards, we tied a little string with a tag with the artist's name on each. After cake and singing, the adults were invited to purchase cards for a quarter each.

Fiona loved it. I have a feeling this isn't her last fair.

Family, food and art. Ah yes, good stuff.

Love & Joy

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Just like our holiday card mailing list, the blog is getting our holiday wishes a little late, too. The holidays were really great this year, but I have to admit the amount of House Love work I had to get done did cast a tiny shadow on some of the festivities. I hope that next year I'm able to manage my workflow a bit better! I am finally catching my breath and hoping to take a week or two off after finishing up some orders this weekend.

This year, we continued many of the family traditions we've established over the years, including little gifts of homemade peppermint bark for teachers, friends and family. This year, we included a bar of Sweet Mint Soap made locally by Biggs & Featherbelle, too. And for the very first time since having Fiona, we have an official family holiday card! So sweet, right?

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I printed out Phoebe's illustrated gift tags from the Taproot Blog and used Whole foods bags as wrapping paper for many of our gifts. They turned out so cute! The kids had a lot of fun distributing our cards and little gifts to friends and neighbors.

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I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! Here's to 2014.

Two, I Love You So

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Sweet Elsa, my baby, turned two last weekend. I love two. There is nothing like the experience of watching a human being unfold before your eyes. At two, that unfolding seems to ramp up. Every moment reveals something new. Oh, so this is what you're like! I find myself thinking daily, hourly even.

What are you like, Elsa? Well, you are very silly. You make the craziest, most exaggerated expressions, sending your family into hysterical laughter many times every day. You know how funny you are. When you smile, your mouth takes up your entire face. It is the best. We have long and complex conversations. You can be very serious when you are explaining something, furrowing your brow and responding with a clipped, "yup" when I show that I understand. You love to help. You are the first to jump up and sweep or put toys away, singing our clean up song while you work. Tick tock goes the clock, what does it have to say? 

I often watch while you play quietly and am so comforted by what I see: Your dollhouse Mama is so tender with her dollhouse baby, you love to carry your baby dolls around (up, up) and make them their favorite meal of cookies and grapes, you even take your stuffed animals for long walks around the house. To see this beautiful world expressed through your play fills up my heart and reminds me that this life we share is deeply good, and full of so much love.

Happy birthday, Elsa. You make us all so happy. We love you.

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