You know something has become a tradition when I start titling it by the year, for example…Maypole 2012. It makes me so happy to know we have settled in America for long enough to have a larger pattern and rhythm forming in our life…we now have annual traditions….and lucky for us, Maypole is one of them.
Maypole is a feast of cuteness. It is a celebration of things that are really lovely in life. Children, Spring, singing, dancing, flowers, food and friends. We were first introduced to Maypole through the Waldorf Playgroup Maya attended, and now get an annual invitation as Playgroup Alumni. This was our third Maypole event, and when I looked back at 2011 and 2010, it struck me just how much Elle has grown up.
This was our first trip back to Brooklyn since moving from there nine months ago. We had not seen many of these faces since we left, and it was wonderful to pick right up where we left off…funny how that happens. The same conversations started up again – something which seems like everyone who lives in Brooklyn with children discusses…”We think about leaving Brooklyn, but we are not sure where to move to?”…It felt good to be having this conversation from the other side…and reassure friends, that there is life after Brooklyn. We felt that it was wonderful to be back and that we still love Brooklyn and we would want to live there again if we could afford to have the space and freedom we felt we needed to grow. Simultaneous we felt happy to be where we are now, living life in Montclair. This is a nice way to feel, we liked that life and we like this life too. It can be daunting to make a big decision like moving towns, states (or countries!) and it is reassuring when you return to a place you once were and reflect, that regrets do not surface….because then you know, you can keep on enjoying life.
We were blessed with perfect weather, warm but not hot, with a gentle cool breeze.
We gathered, shared and connected. We cherished those who have taught us.
And looked up to friends we have always admired.
It was a wonderful time had, and really, a highlight of our life…which brings me to something else…
I am to leave you for a while my friends. You might have noticed the last month or so I have not been blogging as frequently – or when I have been, I have been feeling like I should be doing something else. I have had recurring feelings that I needed to pause, to make change, and to use my time differently. For a few reasons, but mostly for our Girls, it is time for me to have a break from blogging. This is not because I don’t want to blog, but because I want to do something else too! I have so much enjoyed keeping this journal of our life, and sharing it with you here in this space, thank you all so much for reading. Thank you also to all of those that took the time to write words of support and encouragement it mean’t more than you could imagine to know you were inspired to be there, checking in with us, and our life. I have some exciting plans on the horizon, and will be back some time in the future…but for now, on a sweet note, it is goodbye from me…goodbye from us!
Spring flowers seemed to come and go in a week this year with yo-yo weather making the flowers bloom early, and over quickly. We were lucky that the week of Spring break was the peak of the cherry trees blooming and so we made a trip to Branch Brook Park to enjoy the blossoms. This was our first trip to Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ, which we specifically went to as it boasts the largest number of cherry blossom trees in the nation. We have come to look forward to cherry blossoms blooming, being that we love pink and we love flowers, cherry blossom time is divine (allergies and all!). The past few years we have enjoyed the cherry blossoms all over Brooklyn, and especially the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. This year I was looking forward to seeing our new neighbourhood in bloom – it came a close second to the gorgeous streets of Ditmas Park in Spring.
Branch Brook Park has a Cherry Blossom Welcome Center with a beautiful cherry blossom mural and life size imitation cherry blossom tree inside it. The week we attended was during the Cherry Blossom Festival, but the welcome center did not offer us much, and I am not sure if this was due to us being there on a weekday or not, but while it was pretty I wish it had been more like a museum. I also wish it offered a detailed map of the cherry blossom trees throughout the park.
We did not travel very far into the park as it is huge and the tress appeared very spaced out. The Girls were on their scooters so we were able to cover some ground. I felt like the cherry blossom trees would have had more impact if they had been planted close together like at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. From what I gather there are numerous variety of cherry blossoms trees at Branch Brook and when we went the single blossoms had already flowered.
Rather than looking for more trees we planted ourselves beneath one lovely old tree that had tapered limbs bowing to the ground. It was covered in popping buds and so we were in a canopy of pink petal pom poms. We had a picnic packed, and so quite happily spent a couple of hours beneath the tree building dandelion and cherry blossom fairy houses. I think in fact it looked like we were the fairies, playing in a cherry blossom fairy house.
The petals were already starting to drop and so we were treated to pink snow when the breeze blew. I let the girls pick the flowers as they were to come to pass so quickly anyway. I am glad we were able to savor the moment and spend a day playing in the pink. Until next year…when we will surely do it again!
We have a favorite toy in our home at the moment that is the source of much creative play and so I am going to introduce you to our unicorn.
I designed and needle felted this unicorn from scratch and since finishing it the unicorn has been within reach more often than not. Currently unicorn is dressed in a Barbie sized flamenco dress from Grandma and Pop’s trip to Spain. Elle has claimed the unicorn as her own and it has been very busy doing the unicorn’s job of cleaning the worlds water ways.
We love the folklore of the unicorn – something that many people actually do not seem to know. The unicorn horn purifies water. If a unicorn dips it’s horn in a pond, stream or river, the water becomes pure. However it is said that the unicorns power is rendered useless if it is near a virgin female…(I left this bit out when telling the Girls…as I did not want to spoil all of the water purification going on). I learnt about this folklore many years ago while reading the history of the unicorn tapestries at The Cloisters Museum.
It makes me so happy when the Girls play for hours with hand made toys or found objects. Sticks, rocks, shells, wooden animals and the needle felted things I have made keep them inspired and content. There is something peaceful and free in these objects, they are not loaded with environmental issues that I feel guilty about. Let me explain why…
A friend of ours is a toy designer for Mattel, an industrial design university lecturer and the maker of these magic wands. He told us the other day while having a ‘bad plastic’ conversation that plastic never actually breaks down, it only breaks into smaller pieces…yep folks…that means dust sized particles of plastic in the air, in soil and in the water. He also went on to say that when plastic is in the ocean, it becomes a sponge for toxins. It absorbs and holds chemicals and toxins from the water and so when a sea creature swallows it, it is like a toxic pill. Now I am not telling you all of this to upset you or worry you, but it helps to think of this as motivation not to be a plastic using person in your daily life. Especially for use-once-throw-away items like food packaging, plastic straws, balloons and a million other things. After having this conversation with Anneliese’s husband Matt, I was inspired to be a better consumer…and so my mantra…I am good, but I can be better.
I seem to come and go from being strong about not buying plastic toys for our children to play with. I have moments when I fall into the dark again and I am somehow blinded into a false sense that it dose not matter if I buy them plastic toys…I mean look at all the people buying plastic toys? My husband is also not as passionate as I am about this issue. He purchased a Barbie doll house and our first lot of playmobil for the Girls while we were in Australia. This makes it difficult as I then feel like I should not care…but I do care…and the light comes on…and clearly it is wrong for me.
I know he can be converted because he is smart and wants what is best for our children and the planet. Just because others buy it, should not ever be a reason to think it is ok, because that should be the point of clarity, yes, the visualisation of millions of Mothers, buying billions upon billions of pieces of playmobil. Stack it all into a great heap and it should be disturbing. Yes, I understand that not all toys are going to end up in landfill, but lots and lots will, especially when many children these days have such large collections…Barbie, Lego, whatever it is, bits are lots, broken…chewed on by pets. Who wants an old barbie with ratty hair and chewed on fingers? Maybe a child that has never seen or owned a Barbie doll would like it, but who is going to send that gnarly Barbie to her…and does that make sense? Not in the slightest because even then it will likely still end up as land fill…and so my friends…once again I have found the strength to live in the light. No more plastic toys will come into our home, this is a declaration! We have enough, and what we do have we will take great care of so it can be recycled to another family and future generations.
I do however like toys and I like the Girls to have new things, and so the best option for me seems to be to make them toys. The beauty of making your children toys is that the children then see the time and energy it takes as well as the beauty of creativity and skills. My children love to be part the design process. It personalises the toy for them. Over time they learn the skills by watching and imitation and they see the love put into it which gives the toy value. As the creator of the toy you are more likely to encourage your children to care for the toy…after all you do not want to see your hours of work sitting in spilt milk…or sucked up the vacuum cleaner. I understand not everyone is a toy maker, but there are lots of people out there who are. Esty is a great source of hand made toys. I also like Bella Luna Toys and Nova Natural . I plan on holding a needle felting workshop in the future to share this wonderful skill.
Thus one manifests the beautiful Unicorn…and for so many reasons the unicorn is fantastic, because Elle loves it, because I made it, because it is made from wool and because this environmentally friendly biodegradable unicorn does a wonderful job of helping keep earths waterways clean. Both in reality, and in our imaginations.
Happy May Day! One of my favorite times of year, the celebration of fertility, and of new life. Our May Day began with rising early and dressing quickly so we could go out and pick flowers to fill May Day baskets. Last night we made some simple cone shaped baskets out of cereal boxes from the recycling bin. We decorated them with ribbon and water colour paint. For those of you not familiar with this tradition, May Day baskets are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver. If they catch the person, a kiss is exchanged.
We left May Day baskets on Nina’s door step. Before 8am the Girls rang her doorbell, and ran to hide. It was very early and so Nina was not expecting visitors, but kindly answered the door like a sleepyhead anyway! Thankfully – with delight, she found the May Day baskets, and two giggling little Girls behind the bushes.
Maya’s school celebrates May Day with a maypole, which the children have been practicing for the past few weeks. The Maypole event is a combined school event with two other local schools. Sadly though, we heard at school drop off that Maypole had been cancelled due to the rain. I spoke with Mrs Hopper our school principal and she said that she planned on organising another Maypole day for our school on the 11th of May.
We intend on heading to Brooklyn this weekend to attend the annual Waldorf Playgroup Maypole event. I am really excited as it is the most wonderful day, so incredibly beautiful. I look forward to maypole all year. This will be our first trip back to Brooklyn since moving, 9 months ago. It will be a special day for us, seeing friends, and being a part of this magical ritual. At this point rain is predicted for the weekend…fingers crossed it does not dampen our spirits. Happy May Day to you my friends!