Friday, April 30

Our Favorite May Day Book...

We've been reading this book for a few days in anticipation of May Day.
On the Morn of Mayfest is written by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Marla Frazee (one of our family favorites...maybe you know her hilarious The Seven Silly Eaters or her stunning All the World ) The illustrations in this book will make you want to adorn yourself with blossoms and descend upon the nearest town square with a flowering branch of may and some bagpipes.

It begins:
"This is the lass
with hair like a nest
who walked in her sleep
on the morn of Mayfest"

It is written in that snowballing, cumulative style of  rhyme that is in the tradition of "The House that Jack Built". Next there is a "dove who flew after the lass with hair like a nest who walked in her sleep", etc, etc, so that it ends with not only the lass, but 14 other characters, all in a grand procession... I love to see children chanting along with the repetitive, familiar verse after just a couple of pages. I think this repetitive type of book is important for a pre-reading child...especially from my own personalized Waldorf perspective. A child who is in love with a story such as this can (and will!) quickly memorize the verse, then pick up the book on their own and "read" it themselves...mimicking what their parent (or whoever) has modeled for them. This, to me, is accomplishing all kinds of wonderful goals: bringing beauty and richness to the child, instilling a love for the literary experience, and allowing a natural, child-lead step toward literacy to take place without awakening them or forcing them "into their head".  (I have some pretty strong ideas about reading and writing and how to marry Waldorf precepts about these things with other un-traditional education philosophies...I think a child might be best served learning to read and write in the same way they learned to speak...but we can talk about that some other time!)

I'd love to hear about any other stories or books that you all have found to celebrate May share!

Ready for May Day!

Today Toucie, Daddy and I went to the May Faire at our local Waldorf school.  What a beautiful way to extend the celebration of May Day...with a whole community of folks all dressed in festive spring finery and ready to frolick around a Maypole. There was lively flute/recorder music all morning long, sweet young voices piping out traditional songs, and oh, the dancing!

first graders dancing a simple Maypole dance

third graders doing something more complex...look at that awesome 'web' created in the ribbons

sixth graders do a sword dance involving much precise leaping over and climbing under each others' wooden swords while a jester taunts and teases them. There is dramatic drumming accompanying their dancing and near the end they huddle mysteriously in a circle then triumphantly thrust a star into the air made of all their swords woven together. They were even able to raise the jester aloft as he stood on one of their stars. Every year I see this same dance performed by the newest sixth grade group and it never ceases to move me...we all break into  thunderous applause, whistles, and cheering.

seventh grade Morris Dancers doing a symbolic banishing of winter with very complicated stick clacking and wonderfully noisy bells at their knees.

After all the students have performed their prepared dances, the community is invited to dance the Maypole...this is what we've been waiting for!!! Toucie was thrilled to participate. Daddy was pretty jazzed, too.

We shared a picnic an the lawn with friends, we paid our respects to the May Queen...another thrilling moment for Toucie...then we made our way home to begin preparations for tomorrow: May 1st!

For the last 15 years (omigoodness! can that be true??!!), wherever we have lived, we have made may baskets filled with flowers and left them on neighbors' doorknobs or mailboxes to be found on May Day morning. With all the big sisters away for the weekend, it was up to Toucie and me to make the may baskets on our own.

This year we used inexpensive plastic cups with long ribbon hangers (I used a woodburning tool to melt 2 holes in the top edge of each cup through which to string the ribbon). We filled them with pink roses, yellow tulips, and vinca vine from our yard. We made them for the neighbors directly across the street and the ones to either side of our home. Many of our neighbors are used to this ritual of ours, but this year we have one new neighbor...we are excited to surprise her :)

Another of our traditions is to place a handkerchief out to catch the early morning dew of May Day. In the morning we will  collect our hankies and bathe our faces in dew to make ourselves sweet for the whole year through. Toucie pinned hers to a holly bush so it wouldn't flutter away.

As soon as dusk fell (and Daddy came home from work) we snuck out to deliver our may baskets.

We live in a rural area and its a bit of a trot to get to each neighbor. We like to leave the may baskets hanging on their mailboxes in hopes that they will see them in the morning as they leave their homes.

After all our deliveries were made we went home to a hot, scented bath and deep sleep. After all, tomorrow is a big day!

Happy May Day to you all!

Saturday, April 17

At Hospital......

Naya has a ruptured appendix. Just in time for her 18th birthday (she admitted herself to the emergency room and signed her own paperwork even though I was right there with her). Its been a surreal week of hospitalization and anxiety, but with the buoying support of family solidarity and strong friendships. My Naya is probably the quietest of all my children...and probably the strongest among us all. She's been through more trials, at least, so we happily and respectfully give her that crown.

Thursday, April 8

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Festival

 ("Sidare Sakura" by artist Shu Kubo who lead several workshops around Nashville in March)

If a there is a child who feels passionately drawn to something, it is a wise and lucky parent who will grab onto that child's coat tails and go along for the ride. My older girls have an insatiable appetite for delving into other cultures. One that they are especially interested in is Japanese culture. For the past 7 or 8 years, I have shadowed them as they explored origami and martial arts, anime and manga, Basho and Kawabata, calligraphy and kanji, sushi and soba noodles, tabi socks and tatami slippers, j-pop and street fashion, samishen and sanshin, haiku and harajuku, tea and get the picture. Every bit of it has been wonderful and has made our lives more rich, as often happens when one just lets go and follows a child's lead.

(a few of the 1,000 paper cranes made by Naya and Sodie that hang from my living room ceiling)

 So when members of our fair city and the Japan-America Society of Tennessee created the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Committee with a mission to plant 1,000 cherry trees in Nashville over the next 10 years as well as host an annual Cherry Blossom Festival....well, we had to get in on it.

What a lovely day...what a lovely ride...I hope to keep hold of their coat tails and learn from their discoveries and explorations for all my days.

Wednesday, April 7

Easter out-takes...

The bunny stuck to the pan a bit and looked rather mangey, but was delicious, nonetheless.

The dress I'd been saving for Toucie to wear for Easter... silk gingham with a sweet petticoat, snapped up at a consignment sale for $4 back in the deep of winter. She's been waiting to wear this for months...we've been saving it especially for Easter.

What she actually wore on Easter Sunday....a polyester "gypsy" costume from her dress-up basket accessorized with a wolf-head/hat ...all thoughts of silk dress out the window. But that wolf head is pretty cool.

Egg hunt with family. Big kids hid eggs for the little kids. Three children set off in search for 3 dozen eggs...

...all the kids came back...all the eggs did not.

What happened to the eggs that were brought home safely. (You may know by now, that virtually every celebration day ends in silly shenanigans around here. Although the eggs in this photo were harmed, they were not sound, fresh, "keeper" eggs, so we sacrificed them for the sake of some good fun)

Thursday, April 1

April Fool

We are dedicating this weekend to celebrating Naya and Sodie's 18th birthdays (plus a bit of Easter-y goodness), but I just wanted to pop in and say happy April Fool's Day to all who might have observed yesterday! We had a ball....

We broke confetti eggs over each other's heads...

Naya got me good with a prank phone call impersonating a bill collector!
Toucie and I made a "tricky dinner" for everyone. The "pot pie" was really a custard pastry and the "cupcakes" were actually little meatloaves "frosted" with tinted mashed potatoes.

And finally...this is the trick that fooled everyone...Mado and I painted out Toucie's front tooth and texted this cell phone photo (she's holding up a button for a "tooth") to Daddy, Naya, and Sodie. We attached the following message :

"omg...T had anthr collision w tethrbll...guess she's ready 4 frst grd!"

Hope you all had fun fooling your loved ones!