Start of the 2017 School Year

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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!?

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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.

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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.

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

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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.
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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!

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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!

Springtime Whirlwind

Spring came and went quickly this year. I wish I had done a better job of capturing all the moments of joy and learning here. I can’t beat myself up about not blogging, though. That’s not really healthy. I’ve continued to take tons of photos. Sometimes I find myself at a loss for words, or maybe energy for words. The photos I take are sustaining to me. I so enjoy having them.

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In February something fairly significant happened. Our 60-foot deodora cedar tree from our side yard fell over in a big, long rainstorm (not quite a whirlwind, but close). It landed on the front corner of our home. Since then, we’ve had to learn a lot about homeowners insurance claims, hiring contractors, etc.

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I’m really missing this tree, but it has opened some doors for us. I’m grateful to this tree; even in its demise it helped us out.

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I’d love to say that the damage was repaired rapidly, but it’s been slow. In the intervening months since the tree fell, we have paid to have the tree removed, hired a public adjuster, put plastic up on our roof to keep the weather out of our home, signed contracts, looked at roofing, chosen new masonry for the front of our house and chimney (the impact of the tree on the house caused the masonry to peel away from the building). The damage could have been much worse and far more inconvenient. We’re just taking things one step at a time and being patient as best we can.

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This is Nick. He removed the much-despised lava rock from my house. I have wanted someone like Nick to do this for 18 years. Thanks, Nick!

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Terrible old roof had to come down. Carpentry repairs and new masonry had to go up, one stone at a time.

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We’ve made significant progress, especially since the beginning of July. It’s been very noisy at home lately, with carpenters, roofers, masons, etc., working as early as 6:30 a.m. (The July heat has been truly unkind, with many days up to 105-110 degrees!) Theoretically, the roofers were finishing up today, which means when I get home from work there will be a NEW ROOF! Probably. The stonemasons finished on Sunday and the place has a whole new look, with beautiful Red Rock ledge stone.

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Bit by bit, the work is being done. We’re hoping to put in more insulation in our attic, and maybe have the ductwork under the house inspected and fixed. We’re planning to paint the whole place. The list is a mile long. We won’t get to do everything, but it’s going to be sound and safe again soon. It is home.

Asher’s 10!

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Well. This post is almost six months late. In late January, my baby son turned 10! We had a lovely celebration at home and then we took some of his best buddies to the movies. He chose to see Moana.

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After the movie we went to Leatherby’s for food and ice cream. It was a lively meal. Some of these guys have known each other since preschool.

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In January, we started Asher with viola lessons with Ms. S. She is such a wonderful music teacher. In just a couple of weeks she turned Asher’s experience of viola around from tears of frustration and embarrassment to accomplished playing. He stopped asking if he could stay home from school on orchestra days.

There are only a hundred million things I should have been writing about these last few months. I can only say that I guess I didn’t have it in me. Life is full and joyful and sometimes hard. This little boy is a delight almost every moment. Ten has been pretty great so far!

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

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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.

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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

Thankful for Some Downtime

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Over Thanksgiving vacation, we escaped town for a little family vacation in Guerneville, CA. Ian found us a cute little flat via Airbnb that was just big enough for the four of us and our two little dogs.

Happy Thanksgiving from a cozy flat in the redwoods with puppies and boys and board games and Murphy beds and head colds and knitting and a fake fireplace and pumpkin pie. So much to be grateful for. Sending out our love to all people everywhere.

The weather was rainy and we all caught a cold, so our adventuring was circumscribed. Nevertheless, we had a lovely, low-key time. We read, played board games, and watched movies, while we sniffled and coughed and sneezed together. I know it’s kinda weird to be grateful for some slow, easy sick time, but it was nice not to have to worry about missing school or work, and just allowing ourselves time to rest and recouperate.

I’m not a huge fan of board games, but we played Pandemic for the first time and I really liked it. It’s a cooperative game in which all players must work together to save the world from diseases.

We did not save humanity from the Pandemic, but we have a strategy for next time.

We took a few walks around the neighborhood, visited the local roadhouse on Thanksgiving Day and had a lovely nontraditional meal. Asher picked fried chicken and waffles, which I think he’s never ordered before. I had a nice butternut squash pizza. The beer and cider were delish and it meant that we didn’t have to stress about trying to cook a “proper” holiday meal in a foreign kitchen.

Garden Mandala No. 84 Thankful #autumn #mandala #mandalaart #leaves #landart #gardenart #gardenartflowers #found #travel #thanksgiving #prayers #camellias #gratitude #redwoodsorrel #redwood #maple

Here’s the Thanksgiving mandala I made by gathering items from the ground and the verge in the redwood neighborhood of our little flat. This is mandala number 84.

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We packed ourselves, our dogs, and several boxes of tissues in the car and drove out to the beach at Jenner on Friday. We didn’t stay long; nobody was feeling great. But this walk on the beach was soothing and fun. Even though most of our vacation was cuddly, cozy time, this excursion was a highlight.

Goat Rock Beach

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Such a pretty beach! I wish I could visit the ocean every month.

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This one guy I know doesn’t much care to be photographed these days.

Silly Pippin

This guy acts surprises and delighted every time he’s included on an adventure.

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Armstrong Woods, Guerneville

On our final day off, after checking out of our flat, the rain let up and the sun came out. We stopped at Armstrong Woods for a little walk before driving home. Asher is very fond of forests, you see.

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So it wasn’t exactly the vacation we had envisioned, but it was lovely nonetheless. And now it’s a whole month later. They boys are dragging through the last couple of days of school before Winter Break. We’ll make it. And come Boxing Day, all will be cuddly cozy again.

Good Saint Nicholas Visited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

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

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

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

 

Halloween Fun

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

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

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

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

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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

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#halloween #king

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

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

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

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Most wonderful time of the year!

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

New Rhythms

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Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

change

Summer Daze

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

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

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

Day camp poetry

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

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

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

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

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

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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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