Valentine’s Day Makings and Musings

Making valentines #waldorf

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! I just wanted to spread some love around. Asher made valentines for four of his classmates last week. His teacher splits the class into groups; so far, he’s never had to make valentines for the whole class.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines he had to make unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine's Day in cursive, from Asher, done.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine’s Day in cursive, from Asher, done. When I asked him if there was anything more he could do to make them special, he added “You’re cool!” on the backs.

Asher asked me the other night about the path of hearts, which is something I’ve been doing for years. I put a whole bunch of paper hearts on the floor leading from their bedrooms to our kitchen table. I’m touched that he remembered it.

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We’re enjoying a three-day weekend now, which for my children will turn into a whole week off school. Unfortunately, Ian’s not feeling well today. But we had our special Valentine’s Day breakfast nonetheless. Heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and honey vanilla Greek yogurt and eggs. They all got pretty chocolates.

Performance at Rudolf Steiner College as a the opening of the teachers' conference

After that, Lucas went to Rudolf Steiner College to perform “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” with his eighth-grade class as a way of opening the teachers’ conference. They sang beautifully! Roughly:

“Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
Now Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way in the middle of the air

Now the little wheel run by faith
And the big wheel run by the grace of God
In the wheel and a wheel hurling
Way in the middle of the air”

Flowers for my loves! Happy Valentine's Day!

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We wandered through the biodynamic farm on the campus for a few minutes, while I snapped pictures. It’s just a gorgeous day.

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I spent a sweet moment with my gorgeous son, who is truly a joy to be with most of the time and most especially when we’re alone.

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And then there was a bunch of normal stuff: basketball practice, and Asher playing with the neighborhood kids, and laundry, and Ian went out to run errands. I hope he’s feeling better!

Ian, I love you. Every day. Always.

Here’s my little prayer to St. Valentine or Aphrodite or Kamadeva or Freya or Hathor or Inanna or Oshun or Min or …

Whoever you are, whomever you love, may you find some way to connect with someone on this day. May we all realize that we are stronger together than alone, braver with friends at our backs, kinder when we remember that we are loved. May we love with courage, constancy, patience, and trust. May our love inspire us, ignite our creativity and dreams, make space for play and peace, catalyze our will to do good and be generous, and burn away the dross and drudgery of our lives. May we see the good in others, not their flaws, and may we extend that same love and forgiveness to ourselves.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m going out to plant irises.

 

Imbolc and Midwinter

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We live in California’s great Central Valley, where arguably, we have a kind of fake winter. We put up symbols of deep winter, and cope pretty easily with inconveniences like fog and brief freezes that kill garden plants.

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Imbolc, or Candlemas, if you prefer, marks the middle point of winter.  Signs of spring are always welcome no matter where you live, don’t you think? The lengthening days bring a bit of relief from gray winter doldrums. Not much of a “proper” winter, truth be told. As evidence, I present this daffodil, which bloomed on January 26.

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These two lambs were born this morning at our school’s farm. Farmer Steve estimates they arrived without help at around 6:30 this morning. I would have missed them completely, as they were kind of hunkered down and resting, but Farmer Steve pointed them out to us. We couldn’t get very close, so it’s not a great shot. But there they are, small, briefly feeble, and perfect.

“The source of increasing light and heat is Brigid. On Imbolc, she moves across the land, bringing the promise of renewal and the return of joy. The name Imbolc means “in the belly,” and Oimelc means ‘ewe’s milk.’ The fertility of sheep and the abundance of their life-sustaining milk are at the root of this holy day. The dangerous part of winter, when sheep might die, when lambs might freeze, has passed. The tribe has survived.” This is from Tending Brigid’s Flame, by Lunaea Weatherstone.

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I wrote a bit about Brigid and Imbolc in the past here.

 

Atticus the llama and his wooly friends

(This handsome fellow is Atticus the llama. He looks after the sheep.)

 

Older lamb, about a month old

The other three lambs at school were born about a month ago; they’re looking robust and strong. Weatherstone says, “Brigid is the life force embodied. Brigid is the protector of all newborn creatures, and she blesses new mothers with abundant milk and the instinctive knowledge of nurturance.”

“Brigid of the lambs,
Brigid of gentleness,
Brigid of the new milk,
I welcome you in.”

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Everywhere there is a quickening, it seems. My plants are beginning to grow again. The sun is shining brighter, stronger, with more vigor than before. Snowdrops and jonquils are coming up, and soon the forsythia and quince will be blooming.

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Today I discovered we had the all stuff to make a Brigid’s cross. I’ve wanted to make one for a long time, but never have. After dinner, Lucas sat down and helped me do it, and we talked a bit about Brigid, and why I’m interested in her. It went kind of like this, “So, for me, as a woman, observing and existing in a world that is usually trying to erase or omit the contributions of girls and women, and seeing religions either actively not liking us and saying we’re bad, or thinking so little of us that they ignore us completely, for me, the goddesses like Brigid are interesting, meaningful, and important.” He said something like, “Yeah, I can see why you might feel that way.” And he tied on the thread to make the cross arms.

Making our first Brigid's cross.

First Brigid's cross

I thought it might also be nice to provide some winter treats for the birds. This seems like a nice activity for Imbolc. But we’re going to have to do it tomorrow. Also, if I am really ambitious tomorrow, I may clean out my fireplace. “This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the sun. It is also a festival of light and fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches, and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth,” according to Cunningham’s Wicca book.

Happy Imbolc to all! May you find inspiration and renewal in the day, and find nourishment for your dreams and your energies for new challenges quickening.

I’ll write more later about Asher’s 9th birthday, which totally consumed our weekend with festivities and delights aplenty.

Jumping into Summertime

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It’s here! Glorious Summer is here! Actually, we are now starting our second week of the boys’ summer vacation. These are days full of lovely things, like swimming and day camps,

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School buddies at camp.

Perfect moment at pond's edge

nature walks with friends,

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and family,

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swimming pool horsing around,

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a few runs at our river parkway, which I try to accomplish mostly in the shady areas,

♡

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some gaming with Daddy and neighborhood friends, both D&D and LOADS of Magic the Gathering,

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and this. Lucas has been in a junior lifeguard camp (with three friends from school) for the last two weeks at Folsom Lake. This photo is from the tryouts day. I’ve been BLESSED by another mom, an angel who is doing most of the driving to and from camp, and so I only have photos from tryouts. The kids have been trained in CPR and choking rescue, gone river rafting, practiced water rescues, and I don’t even know what else! Their days are full of physical conditioning—running, core exercises, push ups, swimming—and these kids come home TIRED and sore. It’s great! We’re packing enormous lunches and liters of water every day to keep Lucas fueled and hydrated.

My harpies woke me up this morning in the wee hours. I started thinking about all the usual worries, and then a new one struck: This week, Tuesday through Thursday, late, Lucas is going to Santa Cruz to do open-water lifeguard training and to compete in a lifeguard competition. He is going along with our dear friends because Ian and I cannot go with him. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’re very happy he gets to go. However, last night I started worrying about my little son in the great big ocean without my being nearby. I started spinning on that: What if something happens to him?!

Then I realized he would be surrounded by pro lifeguards, and I went back to sleep.

Asher is doing a day camp with some buddies at Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which is a jewel in the middle of our city. From 9 to noon for ten days, he gets to do crafts, hike, learn about wild creatures, our local ecosystem, go fishing, go rafting, and more. Lucas did this camp when he was younger and it was wonderful. It really helps that two of Asher’s buddies (Star Destroyer and Blackout) are doing this with him. Asher’s nickname is Shadow Sting. How cute is that?

Last week, Ian and I got to see Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeur show. It was deliciously funny and I laughed until I felt amazing!

 

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

Summertime is here! For many families summer is a sweet time of lazy days and icy juice pops, swimming and reading and sleeping in. My boys have a few summer camp adventures this summer, and we have a couple of camping trips planned. It’s shaping up to be a lovely time.

Right now, my coauthor, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I are offering a sale on our Midsummer Festival E-Book. From now through June 30, if you buy the Midsummer Festival E-Book at the sale price of $19.99, you’ll also get the Summer Festivals Cookbook! Together these two e-books provide wonderful ideas for filling summertime with festivities, food, and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. Please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

Our labor of love will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read stories and fairy tales filled with sunshine to the children
  • Enjoy verses, songs, poems and fingerplays that celebrate the coming of summer
  • Learn about the history, background and symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get ideas for how to create your own meaning for this special festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice feast
  • Play Solstice games
  • Make a Midsummer bonfire
  • Create simple beeswax suns with the children
  • Make a Solstice wreath for the birds
  • Design Midsummer string art sunbursts
  • Read a story of The Sun Child and create a Sun Child necklace
  • Craft a shiny garden suncatcher
  • Use a rock garden sundial to tell time in your garden
  • Make a “Catch the Sun” throw toy for your child
  • Create a paper Solstice Sun
  • Create daytime and nighttime Midsummer magic
  • Hang summer Solstice flags indoors or outdoors this season
  • Plant a Midsummer indoor herb garden
  • Craft a sun mosaic birdbath
  • Make a sunshine fairy out of wool roving and felt
  • Sew and stuff herbal dream pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle-felt a summer sun wall hanging
  • Create sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the children
  • Bake sun bread with the children
  • Go on a sun hunt
  • Make a sun mask
  • Design a sunshine banner
  • Crochet sun medallion necklaces

Here are some teaser pics from the e-book. We hope they ignite your interest and inspire you to fill your days with sweet sunshine!

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

Simple Earth Art

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I’ve posted about this before, and offered an easy tutorial. The last time we did this project it was with Lucas and his friend from school. But it’s too good to do only once, and this time I was hoping to get Lucas, Asher, and the neighborhood boys to play with me. Alas, basketball won out over my idea.

Still, Asher and I had fun. (He’s sweet to still sometimes do stuff with me.)

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This time, I enjoyed writing messages on my earths. Cheesy, maybe, but I like them.

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Here’s how they turned out. I think they’re awesome. I’m making one for the bathroom that says “Save water.” Maybe it will remind us to cut down on our shower times.

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

Asher made this lovely Mars, too. Why not? He does live in the future, after all. Maybe someday the Earth won’t be our only home … Maybe future humans will get to choose.

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xo

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day.  May we all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all.

Happy Earth Day!

Our little patch of Earth is presently covered in flowers. All of my beautiful plants are laughing uproariously in color. It makes me happy.

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No filter Aurora, I think

California is experiencing a very serious drought. And I’m conflicted about having a garden at all. I’ve been building and growing and tending this little oasis of ours for 16 years now. I think often about taking out my lawn, but then I watch my children playing in our yard and feel so grateful that we have a place to play! I am withholding water from these plants. I’m taking Navy showers (brrr!) and saving every drop of rainwater I can capture whenever water does come from the sky.

I promise to bathe my children rarely. I promise to make them wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. I promise to save shower water. I promise to let the yellow mellow at night. I promise to eat less meat. I promise to plant only drought-tolerant plants. I promise I will only drink coffee and champagne from now on if I can keep my garden alive this summer!

Foxgloves are coming

So far, the yard is doing pretty well on water rations, but the temperatures are still cool.

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Last week Asher asked if we could make a cactus garden. I bought him three little cactuses and brought a few more from my kitchen window out so he could make this. He painted the vine wreath with green and red paint, and then we buried it into the little garden so it looks like an arch now.

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We also planted a tiny vegetable garden. I debated about this, but figured it was a good cause, especially since the drip watering system will be watering this box anyway. We planted 2 sungold tomatoes, 1 rainbow tomato (that might be the name), two types of cucumber (one is a lemon cucumber), 1 summer squash, 1 Japanese eggplant, 2 purple basil, 2 sweet basil. (We like to make pesto.)

Today, after school, I’m going to see if I can get the boys to plant some seeds with me and do some art for Earth Day.

And now poetry:

The Robin’s Song

God bless the field and bless the furrow,
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Hill and stone and flower and tree,
From Bristol town to Wetherby –
Bless the sun and bless the sleet,
Bless the land and bless the street,
Bless the night and bless the day,
From Somerset and all the way
To the meadows of Cathay;
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bless the righteous and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air I travel in,
Bless the mill and bless the mouse,
Bless the miller’s bricken house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea,
God bless you and God bless me!
—Old English Rhyme

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Canticle to the Sun

Praised be God for brother Sun,
Who shines with splendid glow,
He brings the golden day to us,
Thy glory does he show!
Praised be God for sister Moon
And every twinkling star;
They shine in heaven most bright and clear,
All glorious they are.
Praised be God for brother Wind
That storms across the skies,
And then grows still, and silent moves
And sweetly sings and sighs.
Praised be God for Water pure,
Her usefulness we tell,
So humble, precious, clean and good,
She works for us so well.
Praised be God for brother Fire
Friendly and wild and tame,
Tender and warm, mighty and strong,
A flashing, flaring flame.
Praised be to God for mother Earth,
Who keeps us safe and well,
Whose mother heart all warm with love,
Dark in her depths doth dwell.
—St. Francis of Assisi

Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed this week, and thought you might like them too:

Plantable gift wrapping paper

Plantable paper earths with seeds

Crochet earth ball pattern. I wish I could make this but I can’t crochet!

Recycle your Crayola markers

Green gifts from National Resources Defense Council

Elemental play book

Finally, our Late Spring Festivals E-Book is on sale for 50% off at Little Acorn Learning. It’s only $12.50 until 4/24/15.

OK. This was a rambling post. It’s what I get for trying to cram weeks of living into one blog. So, back to the message:

Happy Earth Day to all beings near and far, finned and furry, scaly and feathered, mossy and green. May we humans all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all. ~~~~

Wishing You a Blessed Spring

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We had a lovely Easter, celebrating with family both here in our home and at grandma and grandpa’s house. We enjoyed dyeing and hunting for eggs, did some easy crafts, and ate some delicious food together. My kids took advantage of the rare glut of available candy. We played with cousins on both sides of the family. And Grandma makes amazing ribs! It rained just a little bit, which was a gift. I wish it would rain lots more, but we are nevertheless enjoying the flowers and sunny days we are having during this spring vacation.

My children have another week off from school. Today is a slow day for my workwise, so we’re heading out for a while.

Many blessings of renewal and abundance to you and yours this spring.

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.

Gaara of the Sand

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Gaara

Yes, I know Halloween was a month ago. You know, Life happened.

Lucas was Gaara from Naruto for Halloween this year. Naruto is his favorite manga these days, and he says Gaara is a really interesting and sad character. The kanji on his head is the character for “love”; poor Gaara has never known love in his life. Lucas wouldn’t smile in any photos because Gaara is never happy. Gaara carries a huge jar on his back full of magic, living sand, which helps Gaara fight. (At least that’s how I understand it.)

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The kids has a Halloween dance with the seventh and eighth grades at school. It was their first dance and the guys all seemed to enjoy it a lot.

#halloween #friends

We also went trick-or-treating on the night of Halloween. Lucas found that his Gaara bag was plenty big for getting candy.

Trick-or-treating pictures can never capture the magic of Halloween night. Here's my Gaara and his friends, and my Harry Potter.   #autumn #halloween #harrypotter #gaaraofthesand #7yearold #12yearold

Gaara

 

Saint Martin Lantern Walk at School

Martinmas lantern walk #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #7yearold #secondgrade

We had a wonderful time last night at Asher’s second-grade lantern walk. Our sweet teacher really wanted a mood of quiet reverence, and ultimately I think we got there, but the first few minutes of waiting for the event to begin were a tad wild. How often do large groups of 7- and 8-year-olds have the opportunity to play in the dark at their schoolyard?

When the teacher gathered the children together, they sang some wonderful songs for us. We entered the classroom, which was glowing from lantern lights atop the desks arranged all around the room’s periphery. The children sat on the floor and we parents gathered around the edges of the room. Teacher then told a beautiful story of Saint Martin walking through the cold, stormy night to reach the home of an old woman who lived high on a hill. The woman was ill and weak from hunger and thirst. Martin was bringing her bread and wine. But as the weather worsened, he fell on the path, and couldn’t see the way forward. He prayed for a light that might help him complete his mission to bring food to the ailing woman. A light appeared to brighten his way, and he was able to reach the woman in her remote home. He fed her from the loaf of bread, and gave her wine to drink. He was then amazed to see the old woman transformed into a healthy young woman, with the moon at her feet and stars about her head, who said that Martin’s way would always be lighted with the light of knowing, so that he might do his good works. And from then on, wherever the saint went, a little light was their to guide him. It became known as Martin’s lantern, and this is why we honor the saint with lanterns lighting the dark night on his feast day.

Or something to that effect. Probably Asher could tell us the story, word for word. But I’m old and I only heard it once, so … I looked it up, and it’s a story by Reg Down from the Tiptoes Lightly book The Festival of Stones.

The lanterns were distributed to their young makers, and then we set out to walk through the dark school grounds, with the second-graders leading the way. Some parents and siblings brought lanterns as well, and the second-graders sang all along their walk. Their little voices are so beautiful! We walked past the classrooms and then into the farm, threading our way through the dark paths between fields of vegetables and greens, though the little orchard and out to the pasture on the bluff, where the sound of the San Juan rapids is loudest because it is just below the pasture—one of the most beautiful spots on the American River. I wish there had been a touch more ambient light for photos.

Don't take my picture

Asher enjoyed it, as did I, but he didn’t want me to take his picture. The second-graders made their lanterns by doing papier mache over a balloon, and then suspending the lantern from a carrying stick. They worked on these over three days at school.

Before we went, I made a really fast Martinmas lantern, in case Lucas wanted to use it. (Neither of my kids wanted to make it with me: Asher because he already made his at school, and Lucas because he’s too old, in his opinion. Saints are sooooo second grade, not seventh.) Oh well. The preschooler I gave it to to carry liked it just fine!

Materials

  • clean gallon milk jug
  • sharp knife
  • glue gun and glue sticks
  • autumn leaves
  • white tissue paper
  • mod podge and paint brush
  • tea light candle

Tutorial

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It couldn’t be simpler, really. Cut the top off the milk jug, leaving the handle in place, using a sharp knife like a steak knife.

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With a glue gun, glue on pretty autumn leaves in a pleasing pattern. Decorate all sides of the jug. A lighted tea light inside will make your lantern glow nicely.

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With torn pieces of white tissue paper, decoupage over the leaves and body of the lantern. You can use colored paper if you like. I wanted my leaves to really show through, so I used white paper. You don’t really have to do this step, but if you’d like your lantern to look less like a milk container, do this part. It will dry fairly quickly.

You can use the milk jug’s handle to carry your lantern, or you can add a yarn handle. Poke three small holes in the top of the lantern with your knife. Be careful not to put them too close to the very top edge.

Fingerknit three strands of yarn, about three feet long, to make a hand-width handle. The ends off either side of the finger-knitted section should be long. Thread the ends into the holes you pierced into the handle. Then tie them off, making sure the lantern hangs level from the yarn.

Happy Martinmas!

Finally, put a bit of hot glue on the bottom of a tea light candle and glue it down to the bottom of your lantern. This makes it safer. You don’t want your candle bouncing around inside the lantern.

New lantern for Martinmas #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivals #holiday #martinmas

So, how do you celebrate this darkening time of year? Do you do something special for Martinmas on one day, or do you make a week or so of it? Will you enjoy your lantern on many evening walks this fall? Remember it can be used more than just one night.

(More lantern-making crafts can be found in our Martinmas & Thanksgiving Festival E-Book.)

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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.

    © 2003–2017 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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