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June 17th, 2010 | Festivals, Photographs, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

My past two weeks have been filled with so many end-of-year events and celebrations that it’s been hard to keep up with the blog! On June 5, my older son Harper graduated from high school. He was one of only two graduates at his tiny but wonderful high school, the Watershed School in Rockland, Maine. Harper and Josie were poised and eloquent, filling the assembled group of family, friends, teachers and classmates with much pride. It is heartening to think of these two thoughtful and talented young adults going out and sharing their many gifts with the world. (Incidentally, Harper is a Waldorf school graduate, and Josie attended a Waldorf kindergarten prior to home schooling through her elementary years.)

DSC_0041One week later, Harper’s younger brother William graduated from the eighth grade at Ashwood Waldorf School. William has been at Ashwood since he was four years old, and has been with the same amazing teacher, Jacob Eichenlaub, since first grade. William and his classmates are truly like brothers and sisters, having been together for so long and having shared so many adventures (including their recent eighth-grade trip to Costa Rica!). I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowded Rockport Opera House as we witnessed the students saying goodbye to their teacher and to each other, before heading off to enter various high schools in the fall.

DSC_0203If those two major events weren’t enough celebrations for one week, sandwiched in between were several more festivities. There was the early childhood “Bridge Crossing” at Ashwood, at which the first-grade-ready children cross over a wooden bridge festooned with fresh flowers, wearing gold capes and crowns. As they cross, they each receive a special gift from their kindergarten teacher (in this case, a necklace). They are then followed by the younger children, who wear different colored capes and cross the bridge into “Summerland,” receiving a flower from their teacher on the other side.

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This festival is usually celebrated outdoors, but a rainy day moved the festivities inside. Beautiful, nonetheless!

After the Bridge Crossing, we barely had time to catch our breath before running down the hill to the grade school to witness The Rose Ceremony, which is celebrated in many Waldorf Schools. Back in the fall, on the first day of the school year, each eighth grader welcomed the new first graders to the school by presenting each with a single long-stemmed red rose. Now, on the last day of the school year, each first grader gave each of the graduating eighth graders a rose, sending them off with good wishes as they move on to the next leg of their life journeys.

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But wait, there’s yet more! Ashwood also had its final assembly of the year, at which the middle school students performed an impressive play, all in French.

Ashwood Waldorf School Assembly

Every moment of each of these celebrations was magical, and I can tell you that my supply of hankies was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week.

Now things are quieting down. The boys went sailing with their dad yesterday for the first time this season, and are looking forward to long, lazy summer days in Maine before heading off for their new horizons of high school and college in the fall.

After a whirlwind couple of weeks, I turn my attention back to my work with Bella Luna Toys, content and filled with gratitude that we have made it this far, and amazed at how quickly we have gotten here.

Here are some more images from my busy week.

First Graders Perform at Assembly

Bridge Crossing 1

Bridge Crossing 3

How is your June going? What causes for celebration have you had?

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April 21st, 2010 | Photographs | Permalink | Comments (3)

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In our backyard, every week is TV-Turnoff Week.

Son Will works on the treehouse he designed and is building for his 8th grade project.

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March 20th, 2010 | Babies, Parenting, Photographs | Permalink | Comments (2)

On my recent visit to Chiapas, Mexico in January, I was impressed to see the indigenous Mayan women wearing their babies. With babies strapped snuggly to their backs, I saw women selling produce and wares at the public markets, and women farming and working the land while wearing their babies. During my visit, I never saw a single stroller. I found myself wishing that more American mothers would return to this practice.

Mayan Baby Wearing in Chiapas, Mexico

So imagine my alarm when I became aware of the recent controversy over the use of baby slings. My fear was that this would turn mothers away from this age-old practice.

Fortunately, Mothering magazine promptly responded to the controversy and issued this statement:

SANTA FE, NM (March 18, 2010) — On March 12, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a Federal Agency, issued a warning in regard to the use of baby slings. The CPSC asserts that there is a risk of slings suffocating infants who are younger than four months old, and that caution should be used when carrying babies of this age group in slings.

Mothering puts the CPSC warning in perspective: Babywearing is safe, but some slings and positions are not. While baby carriers are as old as civilization, modern babywearing has exploded in the last four years. Along with this rapid increase in use has come the creation of some unsafe carriers, in particular bag-style slings that have a deep pouch, excessive fabric, and an elasticized edge. These deep, bag-style slings can be especially dangerous for premature or small babies.

Some general guidelines for safe babywearing:

1. Only choose a sling that allows you to see your baby’s face.

2. Be sure baby is not curled up tightly, chin to chest. This position can restrict breathing, especially in newborns or in infants who cannot yet hold up their heads.

3. Make sure that the sling fabric is “breathable,” and keep baby’s face clear of fabric.

4. Do not press baby’s face tightly against the sling wearer’s body.

5. Position the baby’s face upward.

6. Reposition baby if there are any signs of respiratory difficulty: rapid or labored breathing, grunting or sighing with every breath, restlessness.

For more information, see Mothering’s Special Report on Babywearing

For babywearing safety tips, see “Babywearing 101

So I hope that you mothers of infants and toddlers won’t panic, but will heed these precautions and continue to wear your babies in good health and with love. Your children will benefit from their closeness with you!

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