Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our First Michaelmas!

Last night we celebrated Michaelmas (the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) for the first time! There are so many different ways to celebrate it, and I had a hard time choosing. A friend of mine from our parish did a bonfire on the beach a couple of years ago, so we teamed up together this year to recreate it.

Michaelmas 2014

We reserved a fire pit on the beach, and the weather yesterday was absolutely ideal. As we drove up, I  rolled down the windows and enjoyed the 78-degree sunshine and the few leaves that were starting to turn. A few blocks from the beach, though, a cold burst of wind started blowing, a layer of cloud settled over the lake, and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees in 15 minutes. While I would have preferred one last warm evening on the beach, you can't deny the appropriateness of such a drastic shift on a night when you're celebrating the changing seasons, among other things.

Michaelmas 2014

Michaelmas 2014

Michaelmas 2014

Michaelmas 2014

Each child received a cape of light, which I made the day before by dyeing white silk scarves with turmeric (I followed the instructions here). The capes are symbolic of the courage and strength needed to stand up and fight against evil. All of the kids in our group are under 7, so we didn't say much else about them - just tied the capes on and let them run around. It was great. Then we gathered around our bonfire and said the St. Michael prayer together, which I printed out on quarter sheets using this lovely download from Kendra.

St. Michael Prayer

We had such a wonderful time around the fire, enjoying each other, talking and eating s'mores. It was one of those rare, sweet times when I feel like I am living just the life I want to, and giving Anne exactly the childhood I dream for her.

Michaelmas 2014
St. Michael? Are you on your way to help?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School

The first September breeze fluttered
across the tops
of the withered grass
and fall came tumbling in as
if someone had thrown
open a door.
       --Liz Rosenberg

Autumn Color Spectrum

It rained this morning, then was humid and warm. Then late this afternoon, a strong wind started to blow, a Mary Poppins wind, from the West. I told Anne that the wind was blowing so hard because it was blowing the Fall here. And I was right. The mercury is dropping, and the high tomorrow is only 60 degrees in Chicago! Fall is here. I see a pumpkin spice latte in the near future, apple picking, soup, and sweaters. And as usual, there's the cheery back-to-school feeling. The excitement of being poised and ready to learn something new.

We held our first meeting of the new year for the Well-Read Mom group this evening. I sat around a big round table with 7 like-minded women, women who believe in the importance of reading great things so that we can instill in our children a love of literature. So that we can, as Sarah of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast says, build our family culture around books. So that we can remind ourselves that we are not just dinner-makers, nose-wipers, and diaper-changers. We have brains that need exercise, just like the rest of our muscles.

I love these women. They are so earnest, so funny, so brave and honest and kind. They are amazing mothers, amazing friends. As Marcie Stokman, founder of Well-Read Mom, reminded us tonight, motherhood can be a lonely journey, and women do better when we band together. When we live this challenging vocation in community. I am so lucky to have found such a village in the midst of a big, impersonal city.

Next week we start a little back-to-school of sorts; a park district swim class on Monday mornings, and a Music Together class on Thursday mornings. I think we could both do with a bit more structure, and I'm looking forward to building at least a semblance of a schedule around those two anchors. As for me, a stack of nonfiction titles are calling me out of my summer novel-reading riot. Well, as soon as I finish Outlander (WHOA, you guys).

Are you going "back to school" this fall? What does it look like in your life?