Start of the 2017 School Year

21167545_10210474940214554_6544291211199953775_o

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

21167430_10210474926854220_4783638373473325187_o

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

IMG_20170905_085630_204

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

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

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

IMG_20170905_085914_152

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

20170905_081343

Fortunately, we have a lot of friends there who love him very much. Neva always props him up and takes good care of him. I’m forever grateful.
20170905_080818

20170905_081348

20170905_081304

We have a handful of new students in grade five, and they have a few new teachers (math, strings class) to get used to. These kids are a lively bunch!

IMG_20170905_090329_043

IMG_20170905_090210_343

That first morning handshake. Hello, Ms. Thorman!

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

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

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

Here’s to a great year! Blessed be!

Thank You, Governor Brown

Dear Governor Brown,
I want to thank you for what you said in your State of the State address yesterday, January 24. I strongly support your efforts to stand up to the Trump administration in the areas of climate science, immigration, health care, and women’s rights, education, and others. Thank you for leading California with compassion and intelligence, with a firm commitment to science and integrity, and thank you for valuing all the people of our state, regardless of their immigration status. California will indeed be a beacon of progressive values in the months and years that will follow. I appreciate that you stood up at the very beginning of the Trump administration and are prepared to lead the way and fight for the American values we all adore: truth, justice, tolerance, progress.
I’m tired of conservatives claiming to have a lock on patriotism, and that liberals are not patriotic. I am sick of the party of “Family Values” that doesn’t actually value people. Democrats do. Thinking about issues critically and acting according to our conscience is what democracy is all about. That is what I see you doing in your governance.
I believe you are right. “When California does well, America does well. And when California hurts, America hurts. When we defend California, we defend America.”
This is my first time writing you, although I have certainly voted for you. I’ve been a Democrat since I could first vote in the 1990s. I am proud of you and of our Senators Feinstein and Harris. Please continue to protect the rights of the people of California to good education and health care. Fight for our democracy, and for the safety and future of our planet.
Thank you. RESIST.
Sincerely,
Sara

Why I Marched

12192

On Saturday, January 21, I attended the Women’s March in Oakland, California. It was an amazing day, and so inspiring to see so many women, men, and children out walking the streets together in solidarity with women marching all around the world. It was lovely to hear the chanting and singing, to read the clever and funny and poignant signs.

I saw a notification on Facebook that Senator Dianne Feinstein was asking for comments from people explaining why they marched. I sent my comments in, possibly too late to be useful for her, but nevertheless, it felt good to articulate what all this means to me. Here it is, with a little elaboration:

 

It may be too late for this to be useful, but here is why I marched in the Women’s March in Oakland with a friend and my husband, while friends all over the nation marched in other cities:

Because I want women to be appreciated and paid equally for the tremendous work they do in every industry.

Because I want women who are doing the honorable and essential work raising children not to be systematically and financially penalized for doing so.

Because I want women, men, and children of all ethnicities, creeds, sexualities, gender identities, economic backgrounds, and disability and immigration status to have a fair chance at success, and furthermore I want all those who have challenges to receive assistance to live their lives to their full potential. This is what government is for.

Because I want all of us to vote, not just those who feel their side will win, and I want voting protections for all Americans.

Because I want our government to be accountable to the people, and not to have leaders who take every advantage to get richer themselves or stay in power at the expense of the rest of us.

Because Black Lives Matter, and this institutionalized racism must stop. There are no acceptable excuses.

Because I want our environment and national parks and natural resources to be rigorously protected for all Americans. I want America to value and support science and scientists, for they are pushing our society forward.

Because I want us as a nation to address climate change with enthusiasm and gustobecause our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. I want America to cooperate with scientists and innovators and reformers all over the world to tackle this global problem.

Because I want women and girls everywhere to have equal rights, access to health care, education, opportunity, and reproductive freedom. I want women to be able to move through their lives in safety and without fear of suffering discrimination, injustice, rape, or any other personal or systematic violence.

Because I want to address our national problems of health care access, education gaps, income inequality, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, lack of clean air/water/food, so we glorious humans can get on with the better work of creating art and expanding opportunity, bettering society, and making contributions to science, knowledge, medicine, culture.

Because my sisters and I are dying of a thousand cuts.

I marched because I’m raising two feminist sons, and I want them to see the world for what it is, and to imagine how much better it will be when we all have equality.

  12191

12141

11765
11822

11871

11876

11868

12171

And if you’ve been here before and are now thinking this is not my typical post. Well, I gotta say. It’s going to be more typical in the future. I am absolutely infuriated at our new president and everything he represents. He and his cronies are the antithesis of my core values. I will not be silent. I will put my money to work for my ideals as best I can. I will march and march and march. And I will vote.

Robet Kennedy Ripples of Hope

#womensrightsarehumanrights, #thankyouhillary, #pussypower, #nastywoman, #feminism, #resist

New Rhythms

2016-07-19 18.56.52

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.

upload

2016-07-13 08.46.59

2016-07-15 12.46.39

2016-07-15 12.58.34

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

First Class Trip

Off he goes!

My little son left this morning for his first overnight class trip! They’ll be camping at Full Belly Farm, and doing farming-type stuff, including packing up CSA boxes. Asher has a little nervous and very excited, and I know it’s going to be a wonderful trip. This weekend Ian got Asher a few items he needed, like a new water bottle. I finger-knitted a lanyard for his mini flashlight so he could hang it around his neck. He’s got warm clothes, layers, our ancient snow lion sleeping bag, and he’s packed up in Ian’s Europe backpack from 1993.

upload

Lucas did this trip in third grade too. Somehow, it helps little brothers to know big brothers have done the same things before them, and they had fun and everything turned out all right. Today in the car as we were driving to school, Lucas kindly said things like “Don’t worry. It’s gonna be great. You’ll be fine and you’ll have fun.” It seemed to help Asher relax a little. I can say all the same things, but somehow, it’s better coming from a big brother.

So proud of this boy!

Last night, Asher reminded me that Cindy was going to be there, and that I could call her if I wanted to talk with him. I think that was code for “I might need to talk with you, Mom.” I doubt he really will though. I mentioned this to Cindy, and I know I’ll get a text later on.

He’ll be in Farmer Steve’s group, and teachers know all about his asthma medicine (something we never had to do with Lucas), so it’s all good. Asher has plenty of camping experience under his belt.

I wrote this years ago about Lucas’s first overnight trip. All of this is still so completely true, and I wish Asher the best possible time!

“I love this Waldorf curriculum. I love that my son gets to spend a day and a night on a working farm that is using sustainable practices and raising sheep for wool. I love that he knows where his food comes from. I love that part of school for him is fresh air and sunshine, digging in the mud and planting seeds, and swimming in a pond. I love that his physical and spiritual development are carefully considered in addition to his academic aptitude and achievement; that the health and unity of the class as a whole is considered. I love that he is challenged with tasks that are a trifle scary and difficult, and supported while he faces his fears and overcomes obstacles. I feel he is being nourished every day by these qualities and so many more that I can’t even put into words.

“I’m just so full of gratitude, and hoping he has a wonderful time.”

 

Speaking of Lucas, big things are coming up for him, too! In two weeks he and his classmates will dance the maypole, and in May he’ll go on his eighth-grade trip for a week!

There are all kinds of letting-go opportunities around here. XO

 

And He’s 8

upload

This is my beamish boy. He turned 8 at the end of January. In the past I’ve tried to write letters to my children on their birthdays, but this year I’m struggling to keep up with all of my responsibilities. So, I’m just getting to this now.

This is my Asher. My sunbeam. My giggle. My fresh breeze.

8

Asher is all I could ever want in a son. (And I can absolutely say that about both of my sons.) Asher is brave and honest, mischievous and fun-loving. He is kind and giving, and willing to pitch in. He’s a fierce warrior for justice. He is strong and righteous, but also sensitive and easily embarrassed. He is well-loved by everyone he meets. He is precious beyond all things.

upload

Lately Asher has had a series of brief illnesses. Several colds and a stomach bug. Nothing serious. His asthma is being well maintained, so that’s a relief. But he’s had illness after illness and it’s resulted in quite a bit of time at home with me. And while I hate when my child is sick, I do kind of love those quiet moment of cuddling and reading, working on my laptop beside him while he rests on the couch. I guess he really likes that kind of at-home time, too, because he’s been having a hard time coping on the days he’s been well enough to be at school. We seem to keep starting over. Just when he kind of gets his feet under him again and starts feeling comfortable with the school rhythm, he comes down with something new. Then he must reintegrate again. This means tears, feeling sad and lonely at school, missing mommy. He’s being supported by teachers and staff, and I couldn’t hope for a more loving environment for him. Little by little we’re bolstering him, helping him through his anxiety.

upload

He was in a pretty good place recently—just in time for a two week spring vacation. He was delighted to have his free time at home, with his favorite playmate Lucas and the neighborhood boys to knock around with during vacation. He likes his days easy, and prefers not to be told what to do with his time. (I can relate.)

Loves #8yearold #birthday #celebrations #family #love #boys

Anyway, I’m jumping back to January now: Asher’s 8th birthday was wonderful, full of friends and family and a visiting Bacon dog. We had his party at the indoor swimming pool like last year. Swimming in a heated pool at the end of January is a treat!

My friend Criss helped me fulfill Asher’s birthday wish: He wanted a cake depicting the Hungarian Horntail and the arena from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. No small order there! But Criss is a baking genius, and when I told her his wish she amazed me by saying, “Sure. We can do that.”

And we did.

Hungarian Horntail dragon in a rocky arena with golden egg, inspired by Harry Potter IV (vanilla cupcakes). Criss was the genius who sculpted the dragon body. I got to make the wings.  #friends #community #learning #gratitude #birthday #celebrations #8yea

IMG_3152

IMG_3160

And he loved it. He even ate a bit of the gum paste dragon later on.

IMG_3099

IMG_3111

He dodged the camera all day #8yearold #secondgrader #birthday #celebrations #beauty

I think the party was a big success. And I think this boy is the bees knees.

Home sick again

He teaches me something new every day. This week, since spring break ended and he went back to school, has gone better than I expected. Monday was a bit rough, but he seems to be more quickly getting back into the school rhythms. There’s nothing in the world like a happy Asher.

upload

I love him so!

 

Lime Kiln as 7th-Grade Chemistry

We said goodbye to Lucas this morning. He went off to school and won’t return from there until Wednesday evening. His class is in the middle of a chemistry block, and they are staying overnight on the farm to build and mind a lime kiln.

Yes, we totally had to look up “lime kiln.” Thank you, Wikipedia:

“A lime kiln is used to produce quicklime through the calcination of limestone (calcium carbonate). The chemical equation for this reaction is

CaCO3 + heat → CaO + CO2”

The experience is a recreation of lime plaster, as produced through a series of chemical transformations, known today as the lime cycle. Lime plaster has been used by humans a building material since 5000 BCE.

Lime Cycle diagram by Peter Bell

Lime Cycle diagram by Peter Bell

“Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime, is a widely used chemical compount. It is a white, caustic, alkaline, crystalline solid at room temperature. The broadly used term “lime” connotes calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides of calcium, silicon, magnesium, aluminium, and iron predominate. By contrast, “quicklime” specifically applies to the single chemical compound calcium oxide. Calcium oxide which survives processing without reacting in building products such as cement is called free lime.

Quicklime is relatively inexpensive. Both it and a chemical derivative (calcium hydroxide, of which quicklime is the base anhydride) are important commodity chemicals.”

The teacher informed us, “Today’s children have little opportunity to observe actual industrial processes. Almost everything comes magically ready-made and packaged. Nevertheless, the lime cycle studied in 7th Grade chemistry offers an opportunity for the students not only to observe an important industrial process, but to build and fire a kiln used in the process.”

So. SCIENCE! Chemistry. Construction. Fire. Campout at school. Social Arts. Collaboration. 28 seventh graders and three teachers tending a fire through the night in November. Plus a large support staff of parents. I am still amazed at the lengths to which these people will go to give our children a hands-on learning experience.

Now, Lucas is unenthusiastic about this experience. (The current phase of seventh grade seems to involve a lot less enthusiasm for everything. And lots of sighing and rolling of eyes.) He knows it will be cold and hard. He knows he will finish school on Wednesday and have to go straight into the first basketball practice of the season. He knows he will be tired. He won’t be home until dinnertime.

I know he’ll never forget it.

 

Michaelmas 2014

15209199685_0c800c83d8_o

Happy Michaelmas! This was Asher’s first year to experience our school’s amazing Michaelmas festival, which took place last Friday. It’s an enormous pageant, with second through twelfth grades participating. We were lucky this year because it was a beautiful, cool day instead of a scorcher.

IMG_2306

The seventh graders did their part by reciting a portion of the verse. But they weren’t center-stage, and frankly, that suited my son Lucas just fine. 😉

IMG_2315

Asher’s second-grade class dressed in St. George tunics and carried their wooden swords, which they have spent the last several weeks sanding and polishing. All this time, they’ve been learning their part in this festival, and also learning a long and wondrous Michaelmas play too, which was preformed on Friday evening for parents and grandparents.

IMG_2323

My fearless second grader helped to subdue the dragon!  #autumn #michaelmas #stmichael #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #festivals

As I have said before, these sweet children are breathtakingly lovely to me. I take lots of photos in the hopes of sharing them with other parents who didn’t bring their cameras.

IMG_2344

The dragon was MIGHTY and FEARSOME and WONDERFUL! It was full of sixth graders, who created it along with their intrepid parents.

IMG_2336

Michaelmas at school #sacramentowaldorfschool  #waldorf #festivals #holiday #community #dragon

IMG_2354

IMG_2357

The senior class and the second graders joined their indubitable, indefatigable prowess together to defeat the foe.

IMG_2360

Inspired by Archangel Michael, innocence, courage, justice, and wisdom prevailed, making a shining example for all the assembled students, teachers, parents, grandparents, and community.

IMG_2381

1506650_10152302641971583_8788031626107901056_n

(I use this terrific photo with my friend Melissa’s permission. I’m so glad she caught them all together like this!)

Second-grade Michaelmas play #autumn #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #secondgrade #michaelmas

Later that same night—as if the morning festival weren’t precious enough—we were treated to an intimate second-grade play, the story of George and the Dragon. The children memorized many, many verses to recite and several songs. Asher was thrilled to be a knight who attempted to rid the land of the dragon but failed. He loved it because he got to actually wave his sword around. George came along afterward and succeeded against the (so-adorable) manxome beast (of whom I never got a good photo, darn it).

St. George,  Michael,  and the princess #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #secondgrade #michaelmas #stmichael

We don’t know this class or their parents as well as our older son’s class, but jeepers they are cute!

IMG_2409

The boys were especially happy after the performance because they got to run (WILDLY) and then take their swords home.

So, a lovely community Michaelmas festival was had by all, I believe.

I am deeply grateful that we get to experience these festivals as a part of this Sacramento Waldorf School community. That they are similar year to year makes them comforting. That they are ever new because of new families, new children, and new art makes them an opportunity for renewal, for buckling on our metaphorical swords and remembering that there are dragons to slay, and so much worthwhile, honorable work on this beautiful earth that needs doing.

Nightmares

Library love #7yearold #firstgrade #son #mamainthepicture #mamaandbaby

Asher has been having a fair (or unfair) number of nightmares lately. I feel for the kid, honestly. I still remember the vivid, horrifying nightmares of my own childhood. These bad dreams are freaky and they result in sweats and many tears. And, of course, they result in requests to sleep with us, or requests for one of us to sleep with him.

Tonight my little love is having a hard time going to sleep. It could be the temperature warming. It could be that he’s overtired—the boy runs solidly without rest from morning to night. It could be that Daddy’s not yet home. I suppose he could also be getting sick.

Whatever it is, I’ve put him to bed now four times.

As I was lying there with him in his bed, wishing that he would sleep, he sobbed: “Mama, I’m sooo tired! And I’m sooo sorry I keep making you come back and forth! I just don’t want to be without you.”

There’s nothing quite like when my child in need notices I am short on patience to make me feel chagrined. I took a deep breath and settled into my role.

“I am always here for you, my love. You are safe and I am here.”

He whimpered a while longer. I held him close and he wrapped my arms even tighter around himself. Gradually his breathing slowed. I shifted and then he said, “Mama, it’s just like always when you are underwater and …”

 

… and he finally slept. For now. And I’m free to read my book or get ready for bed. But what I said before is true: I am always here for him. He is safe and I am here.

Reassuring Children

Asher and Solstice

I’ll probably get around to writing a little about our Christmas holiday soon, but for now I want to talk about reassuring little ones when fears surface.

My little almost-7-year-old son asked me last night, as we were cuddling at bedtime, “Mama, put your arms around me. I like it. It makes me feel safe.” Then he paused and said, “How do you keep me safe?”

Such a big question at the end of a full and happy day, from a brave boy who spent his time battling orcs in the woods. Such an important moment for me as a mother. How do I say the right thing—just enough and not too much, before he drops off to sleep? Accounting for context, age, and timing is so important in parenting. My sweet boy was about to slip into dreamland. I knew what he needed to hear.

I waited a beat. And then launched into my quiet answer.

“There are many things and people in your life who are working to keep you safe, sweetheart. Some things we cannot see. Our society has laws that keep our air and water safe to breathe and drink. We have safe foods to eat. We have people who keep our country safe. We have bike helmets, seat belts in the car, and speed limits on the roads.

“Our police and firefighters keep us safe from harm and crime and emergencies. We live in a safe neighborhood. There are good people all around us.

“Mama and Daddy are here to keep you safe. We made this warm, solid home for you to live in. We stay with you and make sure you’re not alone. We lock our doors at night so we are safe while we sleep. We have safety rules. Your brother looks out for you. And you have adults all around you who protect you.

“Our love and care for one another keeps us safe. We are safe together.”

He listened. He sighed. “That’s good, Mama.” And then he fell asleep.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • 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

  • Buy Our Festivals E-Books







  • Archives

  • Tags

  • Categories

  •  

  • Meta