Happy Valentine’s Day—Almost

Path of hearts

My little son asked me last night, “Mama, are you going to do the path of hearts again?” And my heart grew three sizes in that moment. I’ve always tried to make the little holidays and festivals special for my family, and his asking about this little tradition shows me that he has had some memorable experiences of family celebrations in our home. I usually do all the magic-making at night or early in the morning before they wake. Tomorrow, we’ll have a special breakfast of pancakes and strawberries, I think. And I’m hoping Ian will make me a pretty steak dinner tomorrow night.

Valentines #8yearold #secondgrader #secondgrade #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome

Asher’s class celebrated by exchanging valentines today. I’m so grateful to his teacher for splitting the class into groups. Asher joyfully made six valentines. If he had had to make 27 valentines, it would have been a different story. Lucas made brownies for his seventh-grade classmates.

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How do you do Valentine’s Day? Here’s a few ideas for you:

In other news, the boys are currently with their grandmother celebrating the end of the week and grandma’s dog’s birthday. (We do a lot of celebrating, I guess.) The kids have next week off. Ian’s prepping for a big conference. Lucas will play a basketball game tomorrow, and then play in a tournament next week. It’s 70 degrees today and gorgeous, and it feels entirely like SPRING.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends. Wherever you are and whomever you love, may you revel in the joy that connection brings. And may your heart be open to receiving all the love you inspire.

Imbolc in California

We made a quick little wool sheep today in honor of Imbolc. Happy Feast of St. Brigit/Candlemas! #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #home #homemade #handwork #needlefelting

Asher is home sick today, as he was all of last week. He was bored today, of course, so we brought out the wool to make a little sheep in honor of Imbolc. He didn’t want to play with wool, though. He just wanted to be bored.

Everywhere across the nation is buried under snowfall, it seems. But here we’re enjoying warmish days in the low 70s. It may sound lovely, and it is, but we really need more rain. We are hearing that some rain is coming later this week, and frankly I’m praying for a good long winter to ameliorate our drought.

Jonquil #winter #waldorfhome #gardening #spring #harbinger

These are just some of the beauties that have arrived lately, and I’m only showing you snowy white flowers today, in honor of this midwinter moment.

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I’m embarrassed to realized I haven’t posted here since the Solstice. I’ve been all blocked up with Christmas, unable to write all that I feel I should, and busy with other pressing things. Life is happening. It’s full of mild illnesses, birthday parties, work deadlines, family meals, our new business, basketball games, and other goodnesses. We are following our path, with a modicum of grace and plenty of stumbling. Life is good.

In past years I’ve written more about this pretty little holiday, which most Americans know only as Groundhog Day. For me it is about hearth and home and family, about leaning in and protecting each other, about sheltering and feeding our light so that it glows brightly, even through the storms.

Wool Painting for Imbolc: Last year, Asher got to do some needle-felting in honor of Brigid

Happy Imbolc: This post gives a fair amount of background on the holiday, and how it has many names.

Our Imbolc Celebration: This was a little family ritual we did when the children were smaller.

Imbolc, or Candlemas: Some thoughts about preparing for Candlemas.

Candlemas: We rolled candles this year and discussed how it was the midpoint of winter.

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My backyard is full of robins this afternoon. The tulips are coming up. My daffodils are blooming. I guess that’s Imbolc in California.

I’m wondering how others celebrate. I know Eileen and her girls made snow candles today, and that sounds fun. I might just stick a few Four O’Clocks seeds in the ground in a gesture of hope and investment in a bright, colorful spring. However you celebrate, I wish you warmth and fellowship, and a nurturing moment for all those you love.

Our Bright Solstice

#Solstice #celebration #latergram

I wonder if my posts will be more timely next year. It seems I’m forever playing catch-up, but this time I have a really good reason. I’ve been busy enjoying some beautiful holidays with my family, resting, painting, relaxing, eating too much, working just a tad. So here is my tardy account of our Solstice celebration.

Decorating our solstice cookie #winter #waldorfhome #waldorf#traditions #family #baking

Solstice cookie

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We made our traditional giant cookie for dessert. The boys opted for a spiral design with the Reese’s pieces candies this time. I think it looks great.

Happy Solstice! We're celebrating tonight.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #waldorfhome #traditions #sabbat #wheeloftheyear

I found these sunny beauties in my garden.

Solstice dinner #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #traditions #wheeloftheyear #solstice #sabbat

We had a yummy dinner of chicken chili, cornbread, salad, sliced persimmons. I love those persimmons because when you cut them crosswise you can see the eight seeds arrayed as a sun, one for each sabbat, making a beautiful wheel of the year. It tickles me to pieces. We also enjoyed apple cider with a lemon slice in it, which is divine, don’t ya know.

Solstice dog's raw beef/peanut butter birthday cake. He came to us three years ago. I love him so.  #solstice #dog #bff #winter

And I got it in my head to make my furry friend a meat “cake” for his “birthday,” which is really the anniversary of his arrival into our home. Solstice dog got a raw hamburger “cake” frosted with peanut butter and decorated with summer squash shavings. He loved it and it took him a long time to eat it. I love this dog, and I thank my lucky stars every day that he came to live with us.

Birthday boy #solstice #dog #bff #winter

Our fireplace was out of commission this year for reasons of clutter—ahem—so we made do with this simple feast and some reading aloud. (We’re in the middle of The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman.)

I love to mark the winter solstice in this way. It helps me feel the passage of time, and to honor the changes that come with the seasons and that happen within us. It’s a special moment of winter quiet, a pregnant pause before Christmas steals the show (and all our energy). And it’s ours.

I know some families for whom the Solstice is the main winter holiday. Sometimes I wonder what that would be like, but in our family we celebrate them all.

Welcome back, Sun!

Santa Lucia: Bringing the Light

I know we are a little late,  but Happy Santa Lucia! Asher's class will be singing and delivering treats today to all the classes,  K to 12. Wish I could be there.  #winter #festivals #holiday #santalucia #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #se

I particularly enjoyed Santa Lucia this year, knowing that Asher was studying saints in second grade and that his class would be visiting each class in the school, K through 12, to sing and deliver treats. The second graders wore white shirts and white tunics. The oldest girl in the class dressed as Santa Lucia with a crown of candles and led the procession.

We had to postpone the festival day at school because of a big storm front that moved through Northern California, dumping loads of rain and accompanied by high winds. For the first time that I can remember, school was closed. Here in the Sacramento Valley we simply do not get “snow days.” The school administrators and grounds supervisors were worried that some of our older trees might come crashing down in the storm on our 50+-year-old campus, and they didn’t want to take the chance of having any students on campus that day.

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For me, this was a blessing in disguise because I had injured my neck and had zero mobility, tons of pain, and a job to go to. Baking buns was really not possible in the midst of all that. When the festival was postponed until Monday morning, it was great news. I was able to rally on Sunday and made the best Lussekatter buns I’ve ever made.

39 Lussekatter for second grade for Santa Lucia Day #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #secondgrade #saints #baking

We were able to enjoy a lovely breakfast that morning. I wish I had some photos of the children going class to class. (When Lucas was in second grade, I was able to be there and got some lovely shots of the children all in white, singing and processing through the school. Lucas, as youngest boy, was dressed as a little gnome.) Alas, this year I had to be at work this year on that day. I’m sure they did a marvelous job of heralding the coming of the light and bringing good cheer to the school.

And as December is always full to brimming of important moments, we had our Winter Concert on the previous Friday night. The program is such that each grade, 3 through 12, performs, and some performances are a traditional part of the program. For example, the third grade always lights the menorah and sings some songs in Hebrew. The sixth grade always performs the sword dance.

This year, our seventh grade did something new and wonderful: with the help of some African drumming teachers, they performed a dance for the jungle goddess to encourage the growth and development of the coming child. Some of the students danced, and some were drummers. Lucas opted to drum, and he was far to the left, where we couldn’t see him at all.  We did not the greatest view of the stage, but I was happy because I was in a chair with my hurt neck and not sitting on a bleacher bench. Anyway, the dance and music were beautiful and exciting. It felt nice to have the energy of the concert punched up a bit with the drums.

African dance: Kakilambe #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #12yearold #seventhgrade #christmas

7th- and 8th-grade choir at the Winter Concert at #sacramentowaldorfschool  This time I could see my son! #waldorf #music #seventhgrade

The seventh and eighth grades combined in a choir to sing as well. Lucas was front and center this time, which he didn’t care to be. He seems to be in a phase where he doesn’t much want to be onstage. (Later this year they will perform an opera and he has been assigned the role of director, for which he is grateful.) There is such a rich and varied curriculum at our Waldorf school. These students get to experience so many forms of art.

As a second grader, Asher didn’t perform this year, and he wiggled and squirmed the entire way through the concert. Ian and I enjoyed it very much. (Also, my neck is now much better.)

These are some of the ways we’ve been welcoming the light.

Tree Hunting

#christmas #home #waldorfhome #traditions #yule

Our tree is beautiful this year. We drove up to fetch it from Apple Hill on a perfect weekend in early December. The tree farm was part of Boa Vista Orchards, where Christmas trees and apple trees still wearing some autumn colors were growing practically side by side.

I would follow them anywhere #family #boys #wild #california #brave

Getting our tree #christmas #family #traditions

Apple orchard

The golden leaves in the orchard and the gnarly apple trunks in late afternoon sunlight were to die for.

Could wander for hours here #apples #orchard #California

There were a few grumbles this year à la, “Why do we have to take all this time to get a tree? Can’t we just go to the local tree lot?” Because Mama wants to, that’s why.

The hot apple donuts that came with our tree purchase made up for the inconvenience, I think. They were amazing!

Coming home from the hills #California #colors #sky #sunset

And, despite our late-day start, we even got home before it was completely dark, and enjoyed this beautiful sunset as a companion on our drive down into the valley.

Merry Yuletide,  my friends.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #yule #tree #waldorfhome

The boys and I enjoyed rediscovering our favorite ornaments while Ian cooked dinner for us. Thank goodness for Soma FM’s “Christmas Lounge” stream, which is our traditional decorating-the-tree soundtrack. I wonder how my kids will feel about this tradition when they’re older. I know I think back fondly on the tree-hunting trips to the mountains that I made with my family as a child.

A Dickens Christmas

Bay Bridge #California

In late November, we enjoyed a terrific day at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. The boys had never been before and the last time Ian and I were there was probably 15 years ago. We left a rainy Sacramento to drive to the city, where I got to admire our pretty bridges and took some fun shots out the car windows. (Don’t laugh, they’re worth it.)

#dickens #faire

The Fair does an excellent job of representing a Victorian London “where it’s always Christmas Eve and the streets resound with celebrations of the season!” Chestnuts, puppeteers, street musicians, stage shows, Bobbies in uniform, gangs of urchins, card players, and dancers enliven the place. I don’t remember it being so elaborately textured and staged! Honestly, it’s a feast for the senses.

#dickens #faire #music #waltz #violin

I got to dance a bit at Fezziwig’s Christmas party.

Foresto #dickens #faire #waltz

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We watched dear friends perform and dance. That’s Bryn and Nicole there, playing with the Bruno Band.

Ebenezer and Ghost of Christmas Present #dickens #faire #christmas

Ran into Ebenezer and the Ghost of Christmas Present—you know, this fellow:

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Scrooges third visitor-John Leech,1843” by John Leech

Mad Sal's #autumn #dickens #faire

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Hammered dulcimer

Wands

We bought the boys wands as souvenirs. Asher chose Harry Potter’s wand. Lucas got a beautiful custom wooden wand.

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After a while, Asher reached a melting point. We realized that from his shorter perspective, it was all a bit overwhelming. I wish we could have stayed a little longer, but when you have to leave, you have to leave. The city glowed under stormy skies for us on our way home.

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Happy Hanukkah!

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Hello!

I will spare you the details about how I’m behind on lots of stuff; it’s been a rough week. However, I’m feeling better and because of that my spirits are soaring! And all that stuff that’s piled up will get done eventually. More to come on Dickens Christmas Fair, tree hunting, St. Nick, and Santa Lucia.

Here is a post I wrote a couple of years ago, in case you’d like to make my Star of David window stars this week. Click the link for a detailed tutorial.

I’m wishing everyone a joyful holiday season filled with light, laughter, and peace on earth. Shalom.

Advent Is Here, St. Nick Is Coming

St. Nicholas #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivals #holiday #needlefelting

I am sometimes a late bloomer, or adopter, or whatever. Advent has arrived, but half of us were sick, so, we’re … um … easing into it. We will catch up. We will slowly begin to set up for Christmas.

Do you ever find your energy for festivals and family celebrations waning? I do, sometimes. This time of year can be so overwhelming. I try to remember that my To-Do list only exists in my mind—no one else can see it. No one’s judging me when I don’t get to things I intend to do. No one knows but me. So I try to set my intentions, make my priorities clear to myself, and then let the rest go. If it happens, great! If it doesn’t, that’s OK too. As important as rhythm is, balance and sanity are just as necessary in family life. We’re only human.

One of the things that I find to be a little difficult these days is preserving the festivals for my younger son, while my older son ages past them. Not that Lucas is done with Christmas or Halloween, or really anything with treats, but he’s getting a little blasé about the stories and myths surrounding our holidays. We work hard to infuse beauty and joy and wonder into our home and family life. And keeping the magic alive for Asher is important to me. But children grow—out of some things and into others—and that’s as it should be. As a tween, Lucas is sometimes a bit lukewarm about things, and that attitude can affect my ebullient, sanguine 7-year-old, who is living into these festivals with his whole self.

There we are.

St. Nicholas’s Day is upon us (tomorrow, Saturday, December 6). We talked about St. Nicholas at breakfast this morning. Asher had lots to say because he’s been hearing stories about the Bishop of Myrna at school. He is excited for St. Nicholas to come! And he remembered that St. Nicholas brings yummy oranges. I’m sure something exciting is happening today at school. St. Nicholas and Rupert have visited the classes at school before. We’ll polish our shoes tonight, and see if any small goodies come for tomorrow morning. Simple and small is best. I’ve spiffed up my St. Nicholas nature table doll, who is a few years old now. He’s looking pretty dapper again, ready to bring goodies to the world’s children and to herald the coming of the Winter Sun King.

In honor of St. Nicholas’s Day, Eileen and I are having a one-day sale on our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book today only (December 5)! It’s available for half price ($9.99) at http://www.littleacornlearning.com.

The e-book offers poems, stories, songs, crafts, and many special ways that families, schools, or childcare professionals can celebrate a simple, peaceful month of December. We wrote this e-book with the hope we might help people create thoughtful, heartfelt holidays, with less frenzied commercialism and more togetherness time.

Advent Mosaic 10 x 3

This mosaic is a peek at what’s in our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book. Many thanks for reading this far, and for spreading the word to anyone who might be interested in our offering. And whatever you do this month to celebrate whichever holidays you celebrate, do it with simplicity, love, and joy. Blessings of the season on you and your loved ones!

 

Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving
THANK YOU
for all my hands can hold—
apples red,
and melons gold,
yellow corn
both ripe and sweet,
peas and beans
so good to eat!

THANK YOU
for all my eyes can see—
lovely sunlight,
field and tree,
white cloud-boats
in sea-deep sky,
soaring bird
and butterfly.

THANK YOU
for all my ears can hear—
birds’ song echoing
far and near,
songs of little
stream, big sea,
cricket, bullfrog,
duck and bee!
—Ivy O. Eastwick

 

To my parents, thank you for all the unflagging faith, love, friendship, and for all you do to support me and my family, even still, even though I’m 42.

To my brother, thank you for being so steadfast, and for opening up.

To my in-laws, thank you for the love and comfort, for your respect, for the constant love you flow to my children.

To my sons, thank you for so much joy and inspiration, for being so resilient when we mess up, for shining your pure and perfect light into our lives, and for loving us completely.

To my friends, who are legion, near and far, thank you for the laughs, adventures, trust, time, attention, caring, honesty, support, forgiveness, courage, vulnerability, strength, creativity, madness, and dreams.

To my husband, who is my whole heart, my earth, my home, and my fire, who teaches, scrubs, weeps, strives, laughs, heals, parents, and sleeps beside me, thank you for everything you are and for loving me.

I am blessed beyond deserving, beyond measure. And I am grateful.

 

Harry Potter 2.0

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I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Asher decided to be Harry Potter for Halloween this year. Ian had been reading Harry Potter books aloud to our family since April. But I was surprised to learn that he was coming up with costume ideas that weren’t his first choice (devil, dementor)—until we told him it didn’t matter that his hair is blond and Harry Potter’s hair is black, that he could still be Harry Potter by either ignoring the difference or changing his hair color for the night of Halloween. Once Asher heard that it was possible to spray his hair black for the costume, he was all in, and didn’t once mention devil or dementor after that.

It got me thinking: How many kids confront this and get stuck believing they can’t dress the way they want for Halloween because they don’t already look exactly like the character they want to be—their hair isn’t the right color, their skin isn’t the right color. Or worse, that they cannot be who they want because they “don’t look” the part. Ooooof.

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As parenting conundrums go, I feel that I got off easy on this one. A can of black hair spray for $2.99 and our problem was solved. Confidence and daydreaming was thereafter restored to full capacity.

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We were able to use Lucas’s old Gryffindor robe again. We just had to glue the Gryffindor patch back on it. Asher was adamant about not wearing a Gryffindor tie and button-down shirt, and with the second kid, well, you don’t argue about that stuff. Especially when your kid is willing to wear warm pants, a sweater, and a jacket-like robe on Halloween night.

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He even helped me finish knitting the Gryffindor scarf—which he wore trick-or-treating—that Lucas and I started a long time ago.

Harry Potter #7yearold #secondgrader #secondgrade #halloween

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And this—this boy—kills me with his intensity, his passion, his drive, his imagination. His black hair, lightning bolt scar, and genuine green eyes. The boy who lived.

He inspires me every day.

Here’s a throwback to when Lucas was Harry Potter for Halloween; that year (2010), Asher was Hedwig.

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  • About Sara

    Hello! Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, a freelance 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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