Lilacs

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My plan for today was to take my family to Volcano to see the daffodils at Daffodil Hill, then have lunch somewhere quaint, drive through the countryside, and maybe visit Indian Grinding Rock. It’s a perfect day, cool with some cloud cover. The grass is green, the light’s pretty even—ideal for photos.

Instead, Asher’s sick. (I wish this child could catch a break!) Three of us are home; we let Lucas escape with his bestie. Ian is working. I will soon start working. We’re doing necessary things instead of what we wanted to do. It’s fine, really. There’s laundry and other chores …

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Still, I’m feeling a little glum while the scent of lilacs wafts through my window. Thank goodness for lilacs.

St. Patrick’s Day Festivities

We made our leprechaun house and welcomed the to the party we set up. #waldorfhome #waldorfinspired #holiday #home #stpatricksday #8yearold #secondgrader

We had our little St. Patrick’s Day fun yesterday. Asher and I made a little party for the leprechauns, which we do each year on the 16th. I know some people like to build traps to try to catch a leprechaun, but we like to throw them a party instead. We set out tiny dishes (an old child’s tea set) and put milk in the saucer and honey on a plate. With some green paper we made a little banner. This year Asher wrote the letters spelling “Welcome” himself. Then we put some flowers around whole thing. It takes about 20 minutes to do this, and Asher gets really excited. He’s always been very fond of leprechauns.

Welcome leprechauns!  Welcome to our party!  #waldorfhome #waldorfinspired #holiday #home #stpatricksday #8yearold #secondgrader #leprechauns

In the morning, he rushed outside to see what was there. The leprechauns left a pot with some fairy jewels and some gold dollar coins for Asher and Lucas to split. They ate up all the honey and drank the milk, so we can only assume they had a nice time in our little party space. They also made a huge pile of our shoes by our front door—the shoes we carefully put away into the cubbies where we belong. Leprechauns always do something tricksy, no matter what treats we leave for them. I’m told the little people all over the world are tricky like that.

Frosting

I made corned beef and cabbage in the crock pot, and an Irish soda bread from a Martha Stewart recipe. It was crusty and heartier than I expected, with caraway seeds and raisins and wheat bran. We read The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Asher and I baked and decorated cupcakes. He’s quite good at frosting them! I enjoy having times like this when he and I can do creative things alone together. He will usually gravitate toward whatever Lucas wants to do instead, as you might expect. But when we’re alone, Asher is able to be his young, 8-year-old self.

Sticky gooey

Treats for St. Patrick's Day

They turned out great! And yes, I saw a photo of cupcakes like this on Pinterest or somewhere and bought the rainbow candy knowing it would blow my boys’ minds. We don’t often make treats like this. Lucas’s eyes lit up when he saw these. (He was at baseball practice while we made them. Bigger boys have after-school activities and stuff.)

St. Patrick's Day dinner -- outside -- with my parents #holiday #home #stpatricksday #family #love #homemade

The best part of the day, though, was having my folks over for dinner. It’s so warm already, we had our St. Patrick’s Day feast outside! It’s good to enjoy the perfect weather if you have it, I say. Yum. Grandma read us Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman after dinner, and then it was time to get ready for bed.

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

More of my St. Patrick’s Day book recommendations are found here. You know, for next year. ;-)

Chinese New Year in San Diego

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Ian and I went to San Diego last month for an industry conference called Cal ABA. He got to attend presentations and meet with colleagues and strategize with his business partners. He got a bunch of CEUs taken care of too. It was a great trip and I had tons of fun. We did a little bit of sight-seeing in the evenings and we had a full day on Saturday to explore San Diego.

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It happened to be Lunar New Year and we stumbled upon this amazing celebration in the Chinese part of town. It was totally cool and it was the only time during the five days we were away that I really wished our boys were with us: They would have loved to see the lion dancers and the dragons, and all the people celebrating.

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San Diego is a beautiful town, and we explored on foot, for that’s our favorite way to see a city. We walked from the Gas Light district to the top of the hill and Balboa Park.

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We visited the Museum of Man and a traveling exhibit on Instruments of Torture, which sounded really cool at first but quickly overwhelmed me. Some history is more fascinating and palatable when it’s removed—which I suppose it always is since it’s history. But seeing the racks and saws and knuckle crushers and such up close and in person was a bit too much for my vivid imagination. I made it about two-thirds of the way through the exhibit and then left and waited for Ian outside. The purpose was to call attention to the fact that torture is not merely a thing of the past, and that the capacity of harming others is something that’s still within us. It’s up to individuals to choose not to engage in such practices, and to insist that the powers of the world do not.

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But then I got to meet C3-P0, and that made me feel better. He wasn’t very talkative, however. Balboa park is truly beautiful, and the buildings are highly ornamented. I liked this goddess wall in particular:

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And this ficus macrophylla tree, which was planted in 1915 and is 80 feet tall with a canopy width of 150 feet. Amazing!

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San Diego is gorgeous and I look forward to spending more time there someday. We had terrific meals with friends in the Gaslamp quarter and in the old town.

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Our hotel/convention center was kinda weird—like a place out of time. It seemed to have been frozen in 1964, and yet, it was more adorable than not. I wish the weather had been just slightly warmer so I could have sunbathed by one of the three pools.

A lovely trip all in all!

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.

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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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