Michaelmas at Sanderling Waldorf School: A Festival of Strength, Courage and Will

Today the kids’ school celebrated Michaelmas, the festival of strength, courage and will. The entire school (minus the nursery kids) performed a pageant in which Archangel Michael helped to subdue a fierce dragon, saving throngs of villagers from their demise.

Archangel Michael, protector from darkness and administrator of cosmic intelligence, serves as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil, of courage over cowardice. In times of chaos and uncertainty it is critical that we have the resolve to summon our strength and inner light so we can transform the darkness and be the beings of light we were created to be.

Transformation of darkness requires fearlessness and compassion. It requires accepting the shadow and subduing it—with love. Only light can conquer darkness. The songs and stories of St Michael nurture the inner light so that the children can go into the world ready to face all of their inner and outer dragons in a courageous and heart-centered way. 

At the end of the pageant the school gathered in the yard where the traditional dragon bread, baked by 1st grade moms, was waiting to be shared with the community. I am so grateful to be a part of this community. Happy Michaelmas, friends.

Autumn Chat ‘n Craft and musings on being part of Sanderling Waldorf School

When our family joined our local Waldorf school four years ago, one of the things that really attracted me was the deep sense of community, and the warm way in which we were not just welcomed with open arms, but genuinely embraced as though we had been there for years and years; it felt amazing.

Another thing that really drew me in was the way they appealed to my artsy side. To be a part of a Waldorf school is to be immersed in a world of reverence and beauty, a celebration of the natural world in all of its glory. Everything is deliberate, from the colors of the walls in each grade’s classroom, to the way that only certain materials are used in play.

We were a homeschooling family, but after attending a free puppet show the school put on for the community, we were sold. That probably sounds silly, but that one little puppet play—in all of its simplicity—suggested to me that this style of education was more than meets the eye. (Spoiler alert: it is.) On our walk back to the car, Jeffrey bean (who was 5 at the time) said, “Mommy, can I PLEASE go to school here in September?” The thought had actually occurred to me too.

When we looked into Waldorf, it was right in line with our values. Some of the philosophies were foreign to us (ie: holding off on learning to read, especially since Jeffrey started reading in his toddler years) but it all made sense and it just felt…right. I really can’t explain it. It just felt right in my gut. It was a more of a knowing.

Long story short, we ended up enrolling at Sanderling and haven’t looked back. When I was brand new Waldorf mom, I was invited to attend a parents’ group called Chat ‘n Craft where we got to learn the ways of Waldorf arts and crafts. This style of crafting using natural materials like sticks, acorn caps foraged from beneath the trees, naturally dyed silks and wools really appealed to me. It reminded me of a simpler time, like my childhood summer vacations when my mom would snuggle my sister and I and we would read the whole Little House in the Prairie box set and then takes naps.

After a year of attending as a guest, as I was asked by the veteran Chat ‘n Craft mama if I might be able to take over as the lead, to which I gave a nervous but enthusiastic “YES!” I have been carrying on the tradition at Sanderling Waldorf since, with the help of said veteran mama of course.

This morning we had our first Chat ‘n Craft meeting of the year, and it was sooo good to sit with fellow mamas and talk and vent and sew and needlefelt and share and laugh at our silly mistakes and just BE, in the present moment, together. So, so good.

We worked on sweet little autumn inspired treasures for a store we’ll open at an upcoming musical event with local children’s group Hullaballoo.

We needlefelted apples and sewed squashy little pumpkins. We made gnomes, each with its own personality. We embroidered leafy, woolen beds for sleepy nature sprite babies. We even made fairy dust necklaces. And it was glorious.

I am planning on sharing tutorials for some of the darling things we created this morning, but for now you can enjoy some photos. 🙂

Hand sewn harvest pumpkins
Sweet wooden peg babies with acorn caps, nestled in leafy woolen beds
I loooooove these needle felted apples!
And of course, we are Waldorf, so we have to have gnomes. 😉

Magical, right? Thanks so much for visiting with me while I rambled on about how much I love Waldorf education and arts and crafts and magic and gnomes. Sometimes I do that. 😉 Until next time my friends.

Santa Lucia Day 2016

Today was Santa Lucia day.  Yesterday I volunteered in Jeffrey bean’s class to help the second graders make Santa Lucia saffron buns, and I got to be with them this morning as they walked allover the school singing a sweet song and handing out their saffron buns.

It is our school’s tradition that the eldest girl in the second grade class gets to play the role of Santa Lucia.  Our Santa Lucia was very brave as she walked from classroom to classroom, with a crown of boughs and candlelight atop her head, and Jeffrey bean followed closely (and cautiously) behind her.

This was the song they sang.  I may have cried a little.  They looked and sounded so angelic with their sweet little faces and white clothes. I was able to capture the very first class they visited on video, which you can see below.

My heart!  This day was so beautiful and wonderful and I will always remember it.

The saffron buns. Photo cred: Alex Rymal

Winter Spiral at our Waldorf school 2016

Winter Spiral Photo cred: Embry Rucker

As the days grow shorter and darkness engulfs us, it is time to turn inward and create a little light of our own.  The kids’ Waldorf school has its Advent Spiral today, during which each child carries an apple candle through a winding maze of boughs towards the center where the light is.

They light their own small candles and carry their light forth on their return trip around the spiral, and then they set them down along the path.  While the children travel through the spiral, a harpist plays a soft, angelic tune.  When it is over, everyone exits the room singing Silent Night, softly.

I really love this festival and it’s among my favorite Waldorf traditions.  It really sets the mood for a different sort of holiday season filled with more stillness, reverence, contemplation and beauty, a stark contrast to the usual hustle bustle that we’re all accustomed to this time of year.  I always get emotional watching this, and I walk the spiral myself whenever I get the chance.  There’s just something so special about it.  I know I say this a lot, but I am so grateful my kids get to experience this each December.

Saint Nicholas Day 2016

Every year Saint Nicholas pays our little Waldorf school a visit and stops at each classroom.  He reads from his magical book and leaves the children with gifts of nuts and apples or clementines.

This was Chloe’s first time experiencing St. Nicholas, and it’s something she’s been waiting for since she turned 3 years old. The children were asked to open their gifts after school, so we went to the office while we waited for Jeffrey to get out and I let her open her little gift there.  Her reaction was priceless and I am so thrilled I got it on video.

She is such a sweet little girl, and she is filled with so much love and gratitude.  I wish I could bottle it up.

Jeffrey’s second grade class was also visited.  Saint Nicholas usually addresses each child individually and reads each of them a special poem, but this year—due to a very tight schedule—our teacher said he addressed each child by temperament.  Jeffrey is phlegmatic and this was the poem that was read to him and his phlegmatic classmates:

Dear Golden Retrievers, (Phlegmatic):

Peaceful happy puppy, on soft velvet paws,

Plays with everybody, nips with gentle jaws.

Doesn’t need to be the center of attention,

Happy to receive an occasional mention

Staying out of trouble, wanting to keep peace,

Like a sweet little lamb, wrapped in golden fleece.

Who wouldn’t want to be in your company?

Kind pup, so cuddly, never uppity.

Though sometimes suddenly hungrily grumpy,

Funnily clumsy, or a little sulky.

You are loved by all and all feel loved by you,

For you’re a golden-hearted pup, through and through.

Yup, that’s my Jeffrey bean alright.  I am so grateful that they are able to have such a rich festival life at their school, and that they are still very much in that magical realm.  I am going to enjoy this as long as we can.