Halloween Time

I’m working up a post about our wonderful family vacation to San Diego, but it’s taking a fair amount of time and there’s just not that much free time these days. Some procedural things I used to do when writing a blog post have changed, and it seems like the new way takes longer. I don’t know.

Let’s see, it’s Saturday before Halloween, which is one of the best days of the year. Tonight we’ll be attending the 10th annual Shannon McCabe’s Vampire Ball, which somehow we’ve managed to miss until now. A Death in Bloom is playing two sets of music tonight, and Ian’s thrilled to be performing with them. He’s debuting a Cure cover, which he’s never done before. He’s all aflutter. I’m so fucking proud of him. He’s pursuing his music with dedication and determination, and it’s paying off!

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So, soon I’ll put on my vampire clothes and get dolled up. It will be a fun night I’m sure.

Lucas, my lovely young man, went to a Halloween dance last night, dressed very smartly. “I don’t like costumes as much as you guys do,” he said, when I asked him if he needed a costume. (I remember when he did love costumes and cosplay as much as I do. We have to give him room to change.) Tonight he’s with friends, attending a haunted house and staying over.

My little guy got to attend a Halloween party last night. “Mom, I don’t want to wear the whole werewolf costume, just the mask.” He, too, used to be all about dressing up, and I have the evidence here and here and here.

That’s OK, though. They get to go through this phase, just like all the others. Asher’s a sixth grader now, and that self-consciousness is taking hold. It’s right on time, really.

I hope everyone has some deliciously spooky fun tonight or next week for Halloween. It’s one of my fav holidays.

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Halloween, 2016

Michaelmas 2018: Embody the Dragon

This year, my younger son’s sixth-grade class got to build and embody the dragon at our school’s Michaelmas festival, which was held on September 28. This is a huge project and several very talented parents in our class took on this work. I’m so very grateful for their time and talents in this endeavor. Huge thank yous to Criss, Nar, David, Mike, and Brian, who sculpted the head; David, who fashioned the wings; to Sandra, who sewed the tail; to Sandra, Tamu, and others who helped the kids glitter the dragon skin; to Melissa and Brian, who helped the children make the hats/dragon spines; I know Neva was there throughout and I’m sure that I’m forgetting to credit others who helped.

This year, the class decided that their dragon would be white. No one could remember a time when the dragon was white. They wanted it to be sparkly and shimmering, so we spent a day painting with with spray glitter and gold and silver paints.

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I think they said we used 40 yards of silk.

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At our school, the traditional Michaelmas festival involves the fearsome dragon interrupting the peaceful village, while the villagers are dancing and singing. With a great booming of drums, the dragon enters the village and the villagers go running.

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These lovely sixth graders are in the belly of the beast, so to speak, dealing with all the social and emotional and intellectual challenges that come with the age. Friendships change, they adapt to more difficult schoolwork, and the difficulties of individuation and finding themselves, and figuring out what matters to them—what side they stand on in all manner of issues great and small.

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A brave knight, George (played by a high school senior), with the help of the Archangel Michael, faces the dragon. Michael imbues George with goodness and strength to tame the dragon.

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Second graders and twelfth graders surround the dragon. With their will and their love, they subdue its threat and make it tame.

When I conquer within me fear and wrath,

Michael in heaven casts the dragon forth.

 

Firmly on the Earth I stand.

Michael’s sword within my hand.

When I conquer fear, the dragon’s chains I tightly bind.

Michael’s light is in my mind.

When I thrust against the monster’s might

Michael is at my side.

 

Harken all, the time has come!

When all the world at last the truth shall hear,

Then the lion shall lie down with the lamb.

Our lances shall be turned to reaping hooks,

Swords and guns be cast as plowshares.

Nations shall live in lasting peace.

All men unite as brothers.

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My dear Asher is always so funny. He is a beacon of light in my life.

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Second graders pose with the dragon that they helped to subdue. (They are studying the saints this year.)

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On the one hand, it’s just a school festival—a bunch of kids, organized by grades, dressed in costume and performing in a pageant. On the other hand, it’s a massive effort full of heart, an event that affirms and builds community, pulling in people whose children have long-ago outgrown the school. It’s a place where innocence and courage are embodied, where we can urge and model stepping out to boldly stand up for our values and confront the things that threaten to make us weaker, fearful, and divided. There is no lack of dragons like that to confront in our world today.

Matthew Barton, writing in the introduction to a reader of Steiner writings and talks touching on Michaelmas, says this moment in which we live is awakening us “to the consequences of our own actions in many different spheres, asking us to exercise moral judgement and take responsibility for ourselves and the planet. To reconnect consciously. And increasingly it is becoming clear, in a way similar to the wider vistas that open up as leaves fall, that a battle is raging between these developing forces of sensitivity, awareness and responsibility and those—really there is not other word—demonic self-interest, social divisiveness and materialism, often, let’s not deceive ourselves, combined within each one of us. So the battle is with and within ourselves.”

I’m very fond of this festival. Here is where I wrote about Lucas’s sixth-grade Michaelmas dragon.

Michaelmas: New Dragons

Yosemite Trip

My little love is off with his class to Yosemite for three days. It the first sixth-grade trip and we’ve been on the edge of our seats as to whether he would go. He’s had a cold for the last five days, and didn’t feel up to going to school. Plus, he suffers from a lot of anxiety about being away from home, without his parents, brother, and fluffy dogs—a lot of anxiety.

Last night though, he was feeling a bit better and started to rally. With gentle, steady pressure we suggested that he go on the trip, that it would be great fun and he would learn a lot. The program the class will participate in is a really cool real-world environmental sciences curriculum. They’ve been studying geology in Main Lesson, and this is a hell of a capstone experience!

We carefully packed his belongings, finding nearly everything on the list. Then I made an after-dinner grocery store run for some special lunch/snack items, a new water bottle, lip balm—anything that would excite him about the trip.

This morning he bravely got ready, made an enormous lunch for himself, and marched out the door. I know he is scared. I know he’s worried about the “anxiety train,” which races away with our thoughts and feelings in a whole string of frightening what-ifs. I know that one of the things he worries about it getting sad, lonely, and anxious, and then feeling embarrassed on top of it all. I have so much compassion for him. I was the same kind of kid myself: sensitive, worried, anxious.

Parenting him through this is always tough, but I think we’re getting better at it. The whole time we told him going on the trip was his decision
(given his cold). Honestly, I really wanted him to go on the trip, though, and I’m very happy he decided to.

He was tense and stiff at school, gave me a shy hug and joined his classmates. I’ve briefed the teacher and chaperones, and I know they all have his back. They’ll take care of him and give him extra support if he needs it. It’s wonderful to have a community of people with him who have known him since he was 5. Two mom friends/chaperones sent me photos, and so I’m placing them here, without context.

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I love my boy and his brilliant, sensitive, beautiful soul.

Asher, I hope Yosemite is amazing for you. I hope you can relax and enjoy this glorious place on earth, with these great people. I love you and I believe in you. Way to face your dragons, my love. Blessed be.

Musings

It’s Friday morning and time to go to work. I have a sick boy at home today. And I’m pretty tired from my workweek plus two school meetings (it should have been three but I could not rally for the middle school sports meeting). I want to go back to bed.

There’s a crispness in the air, and my dogs are going berserk whenever they see or hear the squirrels, of which there are many. It’s peaceful for a moment and then they bark a ruckus, to which crows screech a reply.

I am grateful that I can work at home today. My mind drifts to the weekend; plans are hazy. I long to spend a whole day reading for pleasure. I have iris rhizomes to plant.

I am struggling to stay positive given the daily news. Our government has 12,000 migrant children in detention centers and camps. It used to be that unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. would be released into the custody of family members living here. Now immigrants are afraid to come forward to claim the children for fear of deportation. The problem is so much bigger than I thought. It’s not just the 416 kids who remain separated from their families, which is the story of the summer that rattles around in my mind and heart every day. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I’m incensed by this cruelty.

I sent some money to women democrats running for the House and Senate, and one running for governor of Georgia. This makes me feel a little better.

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Starting Sixth Grade

A new school year started last week, the day after Labor Day. This was the first day of sixth grade. My little love finds transitions very hard. He has been dreading this day, and we’re all trying to support him through it.

Asher is clever, kind, smart, empathetic, sensitive, loving, funny, and brave. He may not seem brave when you see his sad face, but this is evidence of his courage: He suits up and faces his fear and deep discomfort. I have tremendous faith in him and his abilities. I am so very proud of this boy. I love him. I grok him.

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The first day went OK, in part because it was a half-day. Over the next three school days he gradually got used to it again. His nervousness manifested in early rising and he was getting ready  and making his lunch long before it was time to go to school. He is cautiously optimistic about his new class teacher, and sad to see his movement teacher go.

I told him that there would be a few days of discomfort, and those feelings are big and real and valid. But that after a few days, that uncomfortable feeling would lessen and soon he would be all right again.

 

Junior

Yesterday was the start of Lucas’s junior year of high school. I am so proud of him. He is a thoughtful, considerate, polite, intelligent, creative, ambitious young man. He is finding his way and moving forward with strength, authenticity, courage, and big dreams. We love him so much.

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He’s been really happy at George Washington School of Arts and Sciences these last two years. He is learning so many important skills there, and while it’s not always easy, I see him stepping up to challenges with courage and an admirable steadfastness.

This year Lucas is thrilled to be taking AP Art with one of his favorite teachers. It will not be an easy class; he knows it will take tons of time to develop his portfolio. He also has US History, American Literature, Physics, Integrated Math 3, and a 3D Art elective. He’s hoping for a study hall instead of that extra art class, but we’ll see. It’s a significant load of work this year, I think. He’s stepping boldly into these classes.

Over the summer, he took Spanish 2 online. I’m so very proud that he used some of his free time to get high school credit, and get that course out of the way. (I wouldn’t say it like that if he really enjoyed learning Spanish, but since he did not … ) I think having Spanish this year in addition to those other courses would have been too much. He took it on and did it all in a matter of weeks, saving himself something close to 250 hours during the school year.

Anyway, I just want to say that my young man delights me and fills me with pride. And he wouldn’t want me saying any of this.

Take Back the Night

I just finished a 2.75-mile walk tonight in the dark. I have been going out to walk at night several times a week for the last 6 weeks or so. I have to admit, every time it’s a bit of a head trip and I spend some time during every nighttime walk wondering if I am being refreshingly brave or really stupid. I take a light and often take a dog, but he hides every time he hears another dog bark and is a black-as-night beta, so he’s not exactly protection. Some neighbors blast their property with blinding bright floodlights, and other neighbors’ homes are completely black. Certain streets are almost totally unlit. Sometimes I feel safer in the dark.

I love the night smells: wet grass, sweet dry oats, ripe figs, oak trees, wildfire smoke. And I like walking my with my light off; it’s a kind of faith. After 19 years, I know these neghborhood streets. But there’s one pothole I trip over every time, even though I know I am right on top of it.

The odds are in my favor; I will probably enjoy many more peaceful nighttime walks, either alone or with my silly little dog. I live in a safe place. Surely there are precautions I can take. But that’s not what I am interested in.

I’m interested in the dialogue that’s happening in my head around the idea of safety, where I’m safe and when, and under what conditions. I find myself feeling safer walking in the dark in places where I’m unlikely to encounter anyone else. Other nights the opposite is true, and I gravitate toward the streets with streetlights. And I wonder why that is, and if I’m safer or wiser now that I am older, or if I’ve just got less time/energy for fear now.

At a college campus famous for partying, I marched in Take Back the Night events in the early ’90s, with hundreds of women at my side. Now it’s just me out there, and I feel up to actually doing it. The night is mine.

It’s ALIVE

The blog is finally finally finally alive again. I’m delighted to have it functional again and weirdly freaked out and ashamed that I let it languish for so long. A migration error, or some such, at my hosting service broke my blog last year, and for months I thought I’d get around to fixing it. Then I tried but couldn’t fix it, and didn’t have the money to pay to have it fixed. Today I finally called the host again and asked them to help me. I was ready to pay. But this time, the customer service guy just fixed it and told me to have a good day. It is a very good day now.

I have a lot of regret over not capturing all those gorgeous moments over the last year. Some of them are on Facebook. Many many more are not. There’s no real way of recreating that time here. For now, I’m just going to try to remember how to use this thing.

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Start of the 2017 School Year

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Our dear Lucas started tenth grade this year, in the last couple of days of August. He’s taking Spanish 1, Math 2, Chemistry, World History, English (focusing on literature), and PE. I’m thrilled with the literature curriculum: The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Raisin in the Sun, Lord of the Flies, and Fahrenheit 51. How fun is that!?

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Lucas really seems to like high school, though he hasn’t always loved all of his classes and teachers. He’s strong, confidant, and has many friends. He’s committed to his schoolwork, and we’re trying to find the right balance between giving him his independence and supporting his efforts. (Parenting in a nutshell.) He is really enjoying riding his bike home from school some days, which is a 10-mile ride that takes an hour. Lucas is a wonderful guy and I’m super proud of him.

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Our sweet Asher has started fifth grade. This year is quite different in that he has a new class teacher for the first time in four years. His beloved former teacher got the opportunity to take a class at the Waldorf school in her city, after four solid years of commuting an hour each way to work at Sacramento Waldorf School. We were sorry to see her go. Asher and she had a good bond. We wish her luck with her new class!

The new class teacher has a lot of energy and an upbeat personality. We don’t know her very well yet, but we’re hoping for a good year. Except in the weeks leading up to the start of school, Asher was feeling very nervous and sad that he can’t just stay home all the time, with all of his family and his fluffy dogs. Instead of feeling excited for new opportunities, he feels anxiety and dread. On the last day of summer break, he was beside himself with nervousness and sadness, so our strategy for the last few days before school started was to provide distractions galore.

If there’s a softer, more loving school for him anywhere, I don’t know where it could be.

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On the first day, all of his buddies looked happier than he did.

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Fortunately, we have a lot of friends there who love him very much. Neva always props him up and takes good care of him. I’m forever grateful.
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We have a handful of new students in grade five, and they have a few new teachers (math, strings class) to get used to. These kids are a lively bunch!

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That first morning handshake. Hello, Ms. Thorman!

In the almost two weeks since this first day, we have seen Asher relax a bit. He’s getting used to the new routine; knowing the rhythm, knowing what’s going to happen in a day makes all the difference. Asher still isn’t exactly comfortable yet, but I’m hoping this will come with time. He’s such a lovely, sensitive person, and I hope we can find a way to support him through this stuff.

Asher has decided to switch from strings class, where he was playing viola, to winds class. He has taken up the flute. This move was largely influenced by the fact that a number of his good friends switched instruments and classes this year. Although I really hoped he would stay with viola (because this is one of very few schools in California that teach strings and have orchestra), he’s pretty sure about his decision. (I think he would like to play the “jazz machine,” which is what he calls the saxophone. We have my old flute for now, though.) I think it helped him to have a choice in some part of his school day. So be it.

And there we are. Getting up earlier has been a bit tough. Both Lucas and I are not morning people. But we’re muddling through, feeling a bit tired from all the adjustments, and I think we’re all looking forward to the weekend!

Here’s to a great year! Blessed be!

Love Is …

Love is …

  • Friends who host a teen traveling solo for the first time and show him around one of the greatest cities in the world
  • Going to the funeral of my dad’s best friend, even though I never met the man, to support my dad
  • Parents who gamely resume and add to their volunteer kid taxiing to and from school
  • Friends who admit they are struggling and ask for assistance; if we don’t know, we can’t help
  • Boundary setting that comes from experience and maturity; “no I do not want to work over the weekend”
  • Long snuggles spent comforting a distraught little boy who is trying to work through a lot of big feelings
  • Ending a year-long commitment that is no longer right for our family; saying no (or no, thank you) is sometimes the most right thing
  • Speaking out for justice on behalf of others more vulnerable than yourself
  • Getting involved in politics, even when it’s well out of your comfort zone to do so
  • Reading a novel aloud to my son, who was a reluctant listener at first but then turned into a please-just-a-few-more-pages listener by the end of the book
  • Beautiful, delicious meals prepared nightly by my dedicated husband, who works all day and then cooks for us
  • Rededication to schoolwork and routine, and facing into new challenges
  • Company matching for employee disaster relief donations (Harvey, in this case)
  • Buying tickets to Hawaii for a family vacation in January, and grandparents who help fund it
  • Sheltering in place at home, cool and comfortable, while California roasts
  • Fluffy dogs who love and worship you no matter how many mistakes you made today
  • Working with dedication and through exhaustion for months and month because that’s what’s required for your clients, your partners, and your family (I love you, Ian)
  • Our magnificent Village that offers to help in some way nearly every day
  • Going through beloved belongings and realizing it’s time to let some go so that other children can play with them
  • Exploring Old Sacramento with our boys during Gold Rush Days, which was surprisingly charming because cars were banished from the old timey streets
  • Delicious end-of-summer lounging by the pool

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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