Good Saint Nicholas Visited

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My boys put out their shoes last night in the hopes that St. Nicholas would visit on his feast day of December 6. In the morning we woke to this: shoes full of simple treasures. They each received a small pot of honey, rock candy lollies in Christmas colors, a chocolate in the shape of a Swiss army knife, and a small, bejeweled magnifying glass.

I admit it’s a challenge to continue to put in the effort involved in celebrating festivals at home. Life just seems to get busier and busier, and we’re always adapting. I find it’s also difficult to keep the festivals alive for younger children when their older siblings age out of them. However, Lucas obligingly threw his Converse sneakers down by the door at 10 p.m. last night, after some prodding on my part. Asher was all in at the first mention of St. Nicholas visiting.

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How do you jolly your olders along to keep the magic alive for your youngers? I’d love to hear ideas! I’m grateful that my older son is still a pretty good sport, most of the time.

Discovering goodies at 0-dark-thirty is always a thrill, is it not?

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The good saint visited the Waldorf school today, too, with his helper Rupert. Here is a photo of him in the Kindergarten (Thank you, Michelle!). Our kids are so blessed. Our beautiful school happily receives St. Nicholas and Rupert every year. They bring small treats to all the students in every grade in the school. Asher reports that he brought an orange and tiny chocolates to everyone in fourth grade. Nicholas prepares the way for the Sun child, who’s coming soon in the deepest part of winter.

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Kind old man Saint Nicholas, dear,
Come into our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something into my shoe;
I’ve been good the whole year through.
Kind old man Saint Nicholas dear,
Come into our house this year.

I’ve written about this simple festival for many years now. Feel free to search in the Archives window at the right for “Nicholas” and you’ll find the posts. Moreover, the St. Nicholas Center online has a gazillion pages of stories and info about this interesting patron saint of children, sailors, scholars, orphans, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, and victims of judicial mistakes. He’s a busy guy.

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

The Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book that I wrote with my dear Eileen is available here, at Little Acorn Learning. It contains loads of fun ideas.

I left for work today at 7:30. It’s been a long, tiring day of editing a high-speed train document, commuting, helping Asher with homework, managing a difficult but productive viola practice session, searching for a missing spelling list, asthma testing and meds, stories, emails, and now this little missive. I feel often like I’ve got so many juggling balls in the air right now, and keep adding more. But with each new one another ball drops. I’ve realized I need to refocus a bit more on providing supports for Asher. Although he’s quite good at doing a lot of stuff on his own, he needs more practice with spelling words and math, more practice with viola (he feeling really lost and left behind in strings class), and more assistance making sure his homework gets done. I’ve put reminders in my phone to help me help him. And no matter how tired I am in the evening, we need to attend to these things to establish a good rhythm. And all of this is part of a bigger effort to deal with Asher’s anxiety. The more prepared he is, the less he’ll feel anxiousI hope.

Motherhood. It ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

Halloween Fun

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“Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.”

What can I say? We LOVE Halloween! And I know we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I am behind as usual, but these pics are just too cute not to post. In a moment of last minute inspiration, Ian and I decided to dress as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

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Morticia: When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy.
Gomez: A girl.
Morticia: An open grave. It was my first funeral.
Gomez: You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse.

We went to a party hosted by the family of one of Asher’s best friends. There was ghoulish fun for the kids, including an impromptu toilet paper fight (after the mummy making, of course), and good wine and conversation for the grown-ups.

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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Asher went as a king in shining armor. We bought a costume modeled on a character from a video game that none of us knew anything about. For him, it was all about the boss costume. We shopped for it online because time was short, and Asher said, “Mom, are you sure you want to spend that much money on me?” Oh, yes, my little Love. Yes, I do.

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#halloween #king

The sword with the lion head on it sealed the deal. And of course, he needed a bloody wound. This so perfectly shows how he’s in-between: kind of a big kid, kind of not.

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Lucas wasn’t feeling especially inspired this year as he has been many years in the past. However, he pulled out a creepy zombie getup with ease.

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Asher got to play with some of his buddies from school at the party. (Thanks to Melissa for the photo!)

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Most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween itself was on a rainy Monday evening, and we happily joined friends for a bit of trick-or-treating in East Sacramento. This year, the Halloween Fairy was not invoked, nor did she trade gifts for our boys’ candy (for her wee sugar babies to eat). The kids ate some, and the rest, well … it disappears relatively quickly.

Falconry Redux

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On October 1 of this year, we were able to fulfill a vow that I secretly made three years ago. Here’s the backstory.

In 2013, Ian, Lady K, Tate, and Lucas and I went to West Coast Falconry to learning about the sport of falconry and experience first-hand the beautiful raptors used in the sport. It was a spectacular day and I wrote about it here at Love in the Suburbs.

At that time, Asher was 6too young to come with us, according to the policy of the establishment. We left him with my parents and had our adventure. And when we were done, I quietly vowed that we would be back, so that Asher could have the same AMAZING experience.

Well, last month, we four went all together back to the countryside near Marysville, bright and early. We left home at 6 and got there by our 8 a.m. class.

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And we got to see and touch and admire these gorgeous Harris hawks.

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We worked with a female Harris hawk named Avalon. And I got to see my little boy call her to him, hold her on his glove, and marvel at how gorgeous, how light and fierce, and how efficient a flyer she is.

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In my post from three years ago, I wrote a bit about these birds, their hunting techniques, and a little about the history of falconry, if you’re curious to learn more.

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And it was a huge delight to see Lucas with a hawk again.

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Sorry you had to wait, dear Asher.

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We all came away feeling like we need to do a Hawk Walk or other falconry excursion. West Coast Falconry offers a number of wonderful opportunities to see these birds in actionactually hunting and bringing down preywith their devoted human companions. Asher was particularly fired up. That this is a sport one can get into is kind of miraculous. We all daydreamed a bit about becoming falconers. How cool is that?!

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Our experience was over all too soon. We then went a-rambling through the hills, eventually ending up in Nevada City for lunch and shopping.

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It was a gorgeous Saturday and I’m so grateful we were able to fulfill this wish.

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I love family adventures, and I LOVE my family.

Grief and Disappointment

Sleepless, sad, sick---he's sick, I am heartsick. He keeps asking me if he can get me anything, or if he can do anything to cheer me up. I told him I just want him to keeping caring, to keep being the gentle and kind, loving and inclusive boy he is.

This was me and Asher, on Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016. Sleepless, sad, sickhe’s sick, I am heartsick.

I am utterly heartbroken, exhausted, invalidated by Donald Trump’s election. I am angry. I won’t pretend otherwise. I wanted Hillary to win. I wanted to see a woman president before I’m old. Now I doubt I ever will.

Asher keeps asking me if he can get me anything, or if he can do anything to cheer me up. I told him I just want him to keeping caring, to keep being the gentle and kind, loving and inclusive boy he is.

Trump didn’t win this election. I think Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich won it for him about 25 years ago. I think the 25-year smear campaign against Hillary did its job. I think too many Americans were swayed by his anti-intellectual rhetoric. And maybe too many are afraid of a woman in power. I’m not ready to play nice and “reach across the aisle” for the sake of a smooth transition. I’ve seen no evidence that Republicans are willingeverto do the same.

So none of what I’m saying is earth-shatteringly insightful or even all that helpful to anyone anywhere. Plenty of intelligent writers are talking about why he won and why she lost, or who voted and who didn’t, and how much racism and misogyny played a roll. I’m not here to do that. I’m no political analyst. I’m not a political blogger.

I’m just saying out loud, on my own mic: I think Trump is going to dismantle the inclusive, diverse America that I hold dear. I think Hillary Clinton would have pushed us forward toward a more progressive America, where more and more people could benefit from our social contracts: equal rights, health care, preschool, education, college, safe environmental policy, maybe even equal pay. I’m just standing up and saying I’m terribly, terribly disappointed. And I can’t believe we’ll have to listen to that blowhard speak from the oval office.

And I will miss the Obamas.

And I will fight.

 

Family Trip for Fourth of July

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Over the last several months I have worked on this post here and there. I had a whole write-up about this beautiful weekend in Tahoe that we enjoyed over the Fourth of July. Somehow along the way, in between my new job and everything else, I lost that post. Lost all the words. It was discouraging.

But then this unfinished thing just sat here in my blog waiting for me to get back to it, to rewrite everything I had written before, if I could remember it. And now it’s almost Halloween and I realize this unfinished post has been completely clogging up my writing flow–I’ve been unable to get past it. And that’s just plain silly. There’s so much love and life happening all the time and to not revel in it and get it down is a shame.

So, I’ve decided that I will no longer let this guilt-ridden thing from July clog up the works. I will give you only these wonderful summery pictures celebrating a moment in our lives and hope that the pipe will now flow free for more writing. It is good enough.

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Garden Mandala No. 69 #summer #flowers #gardening #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #mandalaart #ephemeralart #ephemeral #mandala #mountains #wildflowers #aspen #mulesear #tahoe #flax

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Garden Mandala No. 71 Happy Independence Day! #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #gardenart #flowers #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #mandalaart #4thofjuly #independenceday #redwhiteandblue #sixpointedstar #summer #oleander #roses #morningglory #

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New Rhythms

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Dear Friends,

I have some news. I’ve told all my peeps in real life, and its a huge deal for me, so I guess I should mention it here.

After 13 years of self-employment, I have accepted a position as a Lead Editor for an international consulting firm in their environmental and planning group. The majority of my work will involve California high-speed rail. I’ll be working in downtown Sacramento. It’s a great opportunity to learn lots of new things and get into a stable industry. And high-speed rail is an amazing, important project that will have huge, lasting benefits for our state and our environment in our fight against climate change.

There have been many stellar moments during the last 13 years of self-employment—moments of achievement and pride, moments of deep struggle and learning, and countless beautiful family moments that I’ve been available for thanks to working from home, and therefore able to write about here at Love in the Suburbs. I’m proud of what I did professionally: I started a business and made money on my own out of the power of my brain, my skills, and my charisma.

I’m also proud of the parenting I’ve been able to do thanks to working from home: the presence, the connections, the trust, the rhythms. I’ve learned so much by being here, day in and day out, for all the glory-filled firsts and everyday sniffles, the pretty and the mundane. I have contributed meaningfully to the growth and development of these two not-so-small-anymore beings, and to our family home. We have built something beautiful here.

This would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of my dear husband, Ian, who has been steady and gracious in the face of freelancing ups and downs, and a faithful provider throughout this time. He was the one who said in 2003, when I wanted to leave my job, “Go ahead. We’ll work it out.” I’m so grateful for his faith in me and my abilities, for his patience with my unpredictable work-whenever-there’s-work schedule, for his support and encouragement all these years. I love you, Ian.

I admit to having some mixed feelings about this change. I’ve been my own boss for a long time. I will continue to freelance as I can, and will be keeping several key clients. Change is often painful, and this is pretty much a 180 from my former rhythm. I’m giving myself permission to take it slow, adjust at my own pace, feel all the feelings—even the ones that are selfish or seemingly counterproductive, and put one foot in front of the other. I’m wading into new territory, off-map and befuddled at times. I’m taking my joys where I can, including playing tourist in my own city.

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For all of you who have hired me, cheered me on, listened to me, advised me, encouraged me, pretended to be collections agents, referred clients to me, helped me network, and given me innumerable other kinds of assistance, thank you.

A special thank you to Dakini, who put me in touch with players at my new firm. I love you, girlfriend! And she’s the one who hauls my Country Mouse ass to and from work, making this transition as easy for me as possible. And many thanks to all the people who have stepped up to care for my kids as we establish these new rhythms.

Love and bright blessings, while I turn and face the strange …
Sara

change

Love Is …

Fragments of my heart

Love is …
• A friend who hauls your Country Mouse ass downtown and back every day with a smile and unflappable traffic savvy.
• A takeout sushi dinner to celebrate ch-ch-cha-cha-changes on the evening of the first day of a new job.
• Clever people who correct broken AC units (both at work and at home) and stop the sweltering; thanks for taking care of that, Ian.
• A teen who willingly goes on evening walks with his mama: “We can catch Pokémon, Mom!”
• BBQ at Papa and Grandma’s house, with swimming and all the foods.
• Chicago Fire Pizza.
• Getting to be a tourist in your home town.
• Lunchtime exercise walking at the Capitol, along with all the state workers, lawyers, and tourists.
• Hoping my feet don’t smell after my lunchtime walks.
• Finishing the third Pippi Longstocking book with Asher, who is sad there aren’t more Pippi books to enjoy.
• Discovering a neat little gizmo from the library called a Playaway, a single-audio-book device on a lanyard that runs on a AAA battery—perfect for little people who don’t have iPods or tablets to carry around everywhere.
• Getting a text that says, “When will you be home; I’ll have dinner ready.”
• My Village of helpers—Angels!—who cheerfully cart my boys hither and thither and care for them after their daily activities or even when no camp activity is available; they are amazing and wonderful.

California Capitol. Half mast. #summer #nicefrance  #thoughtsandprayersarentenough #loveinthesuburbs #lovewins #enoughisenough #wearenotafraid

Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building,  1928

Summer Daze

Natural obstacle course #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow #movement #learning

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Our summer is shaping up nicely! Asher has spent a week and a half doing his favorite day camp—Junior Rangers at Effie Yeaw Nature Center—with some of his best school chums, all of whom are 9. Today they are rafting down the American River!

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Nimble 9! #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow

Day camp poetry

Lucas started his volunteer job at the Sac State Aquatic Center on Monday as an IT (instructor trainee), assisting, herding children, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wind surfing. He’s healing from sunburns and having a good time. I’m proud of him for taking this on. I think he’s rockin’ the lifeguard look! (But you’ll have to trust me on that until I can get him to allow me to snap and publish a photo.)

Garden Mandala No. 67 Happy Summer Solstice! (I used Lucas's graduation flowers, which were on their last legs.) #summer #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #mandalaart #ephemeral #ephemeralart #waldorfhome #sunflower #g

The summer solstice has come, and with it a beautiful full moon, a rare conjunction that saw me gathering with my women for an evening of fire magic and ritual. It’s always nourishing to make time for that, and I love those friends completely. I made this garden mandala (No. 67) on the solstice as a sun prayer, a little altar in honor of the season.

These last few months have been a whirlwind of special events, birthdays, school plays, trips, parties, graduation, and plenty of work projects. I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever catch my breath from all that enough to write about any of it. It seems time is speeding up in a way. But it’s summer now. And that means breathing out, right?

Happy Summertime, my friends! May your beverages be icy and your sunscreen effective, may you find a way to slow down a bit and plunge into your version of rest and relaxation, may you breath out and enjoy these joyful, verdant days.

Leap Day Adventure!

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This 2016 year is a Leap Year! And last month in February (goodness, more than a month almost two three months ago already!) we started a new family tradition of Leap Day = Adventure Day. We surprised our boys by NOT taking them to school and going on a day trip to San Francisco instead.

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Lucas was a little put out when we first told him we were skipping school. “But I have physics today.” He got into the spirit of our adventure, though. Many thanks to Miranda for making this happen for us!

Skulls

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Personally, I’m extremely fond of the Steinhart Aquarium. I love the gorgeous fishes and especially the jellies. I know—everyone loves the jellies.

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Living roof

And the living rooftop is just plain rad.

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May 24, 2016
OK. Truth is, I give up. I’ve been trying to write this post FOREVER. I think I’m just going to let it stand as it is. My pictures can tell you how wonderful this day way, and once I hit “publish” this day will not longer be blocking up my ability to write about other things. So, my loves. Here you have it. Life is beautiful and full of both exquisite, exceptional moments — like Leap Day — and lots of ordinary time in between. And isn’t that grand?

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My Lovely Mother’s Day

Rose bouquet from my garden

My mother’s day was restful and fun. I loved every bit of it.
I was well and truly pampered yesterday. I got to sleep in and lounge in bed with coffee and a book, and then I was treated to Ian’s homemade cherry scones and caramelized onion quiche. Soooo good. Nothing like picking two recipes out of a cookbook and saying, “Please make me these!” Later on, I was invited to choose some perennials at the nursery, and picked out some flowers for my mother. We visited my parents and gave my mama a hanging basket full of yellow flowers (her favorite). We then visited my mama-in-law and sister-in-law and her family and we gave Mama Chris a gift of coloring book and some colored pencils. (I am very much loving my coloring as a way to wind down, and we thought she might too.)
Ian cooked me an amazing dinner (tri tip steak, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, artichokes, bread). OMG it was good. And while he cooked, I planted my new dought-tolerant plants (two gauda, two salvia, lantana). Gaura the pink one below; it is a native North American wildflower and I’ve never tried to grow it before. It is very drought- and heat-tolerant. Perfect!

My drought-tolerant mother's day flowers: gaura, salvia, and lantana
Asher gave me a beautiful silk scarf he dyed rose with cochineal at school and a wonderful card. Lucas gave me a painting he made. Both boys were sweet and helpful. I am a fortunate mama, indeed. I love my boys with my whole being.
I even got to take a few minutes and make a garden mandala. And my 4 by 4 photo prints arrived, which was like getting another present. And my sweet MIL gave us fresh eggs!
Garden Mandala No. 55 #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #lambsear #rockroses #calendula #starjasmine

I also did laundry, dishes, cleaned sink and toilet, and changed my bed — because life is both work and play, rest and striving. I played with my dogs. And I finished my beautiful day by reading Pippi Longstocking to my little Asher. I feel wonderful, appreciated, and happy.

Happy Mother’s Day (a day late)
* to all the beautiful mamas who show up and do their daily, loving work
* to those mamas who don’t get to mother for one reason or other, and
* to all people (any gender) who do mama-type work for others—the often-unsung work of feeding, holding, helping, inspiring, and keeping healthy, learning, and growing.

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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.

    © 2003–2015 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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