Yosemite Trip

My little love is off with his class to Yosemite for three days. It the first sixth-grade trip and we’ve been on the edge of our seats as to whether he would go. He’s had a cold for the last five days, and didn’t feel up to going to school. Plus, he suffers from a lot of anxiety about being away from home, without his parents, brother, and fluffy dogs—a lot of anxiety.

Last night though, he was feeling a bit better and started to rally. With gentle, steady pressure we suggested that he go on the trip, that it would be great fun and he would learn a lot. The program the class will participate in is a really cool real-world environmental sciences curriculum. They’ve been studying geology in Main Lesson, and this is a hell of a capstone experience!

We carefully packed his belongings, finding nearly everything on the list. Then I made an after-dinner grocery store run for some special lunch/snack items, a new water bottle, lip balm—anything that would excite him about the trip.

This morning he bravely got ready, made an enormous lunch for himself, and marched out the door. I know he is scared. I know he’s worried about the “anxiety train,” which races away with our thoughts and feelings in a whole string of frightening what-ifs. I know that one of the things he worries about it getting sad, lonely, and anxious, and then feeling embarrassed on top of it all. I have so much compassion for him. I was the same kind of kid myself: sensitive, worried, anxious.

Parenting him through this is always tough, but I think we’re getting better at it. The whole time we told him going on the trip was his decision
(given his cold). Honestly, I really wanted him to go on the trip, though, and I’m very happy he decided to.

He was tense and stiff at school, gave me a shy hug and joined his classmates. I’ve briefed the teacher and chaperones, and I know they all have his back. They’ll take care of him and give him extra support if he needs it. It’s wonderful to have a community of people with him who have known him since he was 5. Two mom friends/chaperones sent me photos, and so I’m placing them here, without context.

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I love my boy and his brilliant, sensitive, beautiful soul.

Asher, I hope Yosemite is amazing for you. I hope you can relax and enjoy this glorious place on earth, with these great people. I love you and I believe in you. Way to face your dragons, my love. Blessed be.

Junior

Yesterday was the start of Lucas’s junior year of high school. I am so proud of him. He is a thoughtful, considerate, polite, intelligent, creative, ambitious young man. He is finding his way and moving forward with strength, authenticity, courage, and big dreams. We love him so much.

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He’s been really happy at George Washington School of Arts and Sciences these last two years. He is learning so many important skills there, and while it’s not always easy, I see him stepping up to challenges with courage and an admirable steadfastness.

This year Lucas is thrilled to be taking AP Art with one of his favorite teachers. It will not be an easy class; he knows it will take tons of time to develop his portfolio. He also has US History, American Literature, Physics, Integrated Math 3, and a 3D Art elective. He’s hoping for a study hall instead of that extra art class, but we’ll see. It’s a significant load of work this year, I think. He’s stepping boldly into these classes.

Over the summer, he took Spanish 2 online. I’m so very proud that he used some of his free time to get high school credit, and get that course out of the way. (I wouldn’t say it like that if he really enjoyed learning Spanish, but since he did not … ) I think having Spanish this year in addition to those other courses would have been too much. He took it on and did it all in a matter of weeks, saving himself something close to 250 hours during the school year.

Anyway, I just want to say that my young man delights me and fills me with pride. And he wouldn’t want me saying any of this.

2017—A Summary

2017—What can I say? In a lot of ways 2017 kicked my ass. I’ve despaired more times than I can count. I’ve also rolled up my sleeves and done more political activism than ever before. I’ve challenged myself in innumerable ways, through work, personal relationships, and parenting. I’ve also thrown up my hands lots of times, had too much booze, gained weight, watched a ton of TV, curled up and licked my wounds. Staying informed and engaged this year has been a matter of taking a daily barrage of gut-punches.

I am frequently exhausted by the mental and physical requirements of my job; it leaves me feeling depleted and out of gas at the end of many days. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I edit for a living, I embarked on a fun personal challenge to read broader and more challenging categories/genres of books for pleasure. Filling up my mind is always one of my highest priorities, and I’ve stretched into reading fiction and nonfiction about contemporary issues and people who are living lives that are a vastly different from my own. Rock!

I’ve also allowed myself a lot of time to change slowly. I see this as a kind of self-care in a year that by any measure surely required it. Win some, lose some. I barely painted at all, and I miss it every day. I still dream about painting at night. I struggle with finding the perfect cocktail of opportunity, free time, emotional wherewithal to face the complex feelings of ambition/desire/failure/striving/laziness/etc that well up when I approach a canvas. I barely exercise. I barely blog. These are things that have always given me joy or emotional and health benefits, and they have fallen by the wayside. Because I can only exist in this moment, not in all moments at once.

I’ve parented through a few doozies, and advocated for my boys a number of times in assorted settings such as school and health care. I’ve watched my children both maturing beautifully and in sometimes shocking and sudden spurts throughout the year. Learning to let go is a daily lesson, and I believe a quintessential quality of being a parent. As much as I want out of life for myself—and believe me that’s a long and glorious list—I want even more and better for them. But I am not them and they are not me, and ultimately we all walk our own paths. Nevertheless, I often feel like I am not one but three people, because there’s nary a moment when their needs are not at the top of my mind and factored into just about every decision I make. I’ve had to pull back from school activities and volunteering. I have feelings about this, but I’m learning to say no. Saying no can save you. And letting go, in measured increments, with love is the name of this parenting game, from that first Beltane dawn in 2002.

I am blessed to have found meaningful employment in a place I can grow and develop my career. I already said it’s taxing. It’s also truly wonderful to have friends and colleagues again—talented people with passion for what they do and amazingly clever minds solving enormous problems and working from value positions I can respect. My company has a slogan: We make big things possible—in areas that matter for humans and our environment. That I have a part to play, a contribution to make, in projects that will affect our state for the next 50-100 years is somewhat staggering and a source of considerable pride. What’s more, I learn about a dozen new things every day in subjects that were largely previously unknown to me: hydrology, cultural anthropology, historical architecture, air quality, noise and vibration, native California species I’ve never seen before, environmental justice, hazardous materials … the list goes on and on and on. What’s more, I can tell you with great confidence: big infrastructure projects and development are not done cavalierly in California! We live in the best state.

I maintained my freelance business this year, too, working joyfully with Sacramento Magazine monthly and taking on special freelance projects for fun. There’s one project that came to me this year that is very close to my heart because I get to work with two brilliant friends. I’m honored and delighted by this.

This year I’ve proven to myself that I can handle more than I thought. I’ve done a gazillion new things, sometimes clumsily, sometimes with grace. I’m on a board of directors. I’ve worked hard to maintain all my relationships. I try to make contact with three or four people every day. That’s called kin-keeping and I’m a badass at it. My friendships nourish me and fulfill me and I know it’s goofy when I say it on Facebook but I truly love you. I witness your heartaches, your striving. I sit with you when you’re depressed, and I celebrate your accomplishments every day. I am here for you. It’s who I am. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for loving.

My love, Ian, is my rock and my best friend. We are sometimes gasping for air in the grind of all this work-family stuff, but we’re connected and in it together. He’s my heartbeat, my song. In 2017, we’ve managed to put a new roof on our home and fix it up really nice. It’s water-tight, just right, and the place I love best of all. In. The. Whole. World. And 2018 is going to be grand in a whole bunch of important ways.

My family is good. My parents are well. My brother is doing great. My uncle survived not one but two open heart surgeries in 2017. One cousin had a beautiful baby girl. Another cousin got married to a wonderful woman. My aunt and uncle returned to Sacramento after five years in Geneva. My folks are in my life almost daily, and I feel their love and support as a constant, no matter what.

My Asher is sick. My Lucas has two good friends over tonight, for NYE (ethernet!) gaming. And though Ian and I had the opportunity to spend tonight with shiny friends and loves, cooler (sicker) heads prevailed.

In just about 36 hours we’ll be on a plane all together—Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Ian, the boys and me—heading for Maui where we will celebrate the new year and soak up some rays! Hello, 2018!

Probably all of this should be on my blog instead of here. But it’s down again for an unknown reason. I’ll deal with that later. One thing at a time.

Anyway, I love you. May this coming year be gentler, more peaceful and just, and more connected. May we find our courage and stand together. May we hold close our values and loved ones, extend a hand to a stranger, shine out our brilliance, and let our resilience be our strength. Happy New Year!

2017 Read Harder Challenge Results

My 2017 Read Harder Challenge Results: 20/24

1. Read a book about sports. 0
2. Read a debut novel. “The Strangler Vine” by M.J. Carter
3. Read a book about books. “The Bookseller (first Hugo Marston Novel)” by Mark Pryor 
4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. 0
5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. (1) “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri; (2) “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
6. Read an all-ages comic. “Cleopatra in Space #3: Secret of the Time Tablets”
7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. (1) “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; (2) “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Read a travel memoir. “The Olive Grove” by Katherine Kizilos
9. Read a book you’ve read before. (1) “The Name of This Book Is Secret” by Pseudonymous Bosch; (2) “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald
10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. “Walking After Midnight” by Kate Abbott
11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. “The Strangler Vine” by M.J. Carter
12. Read a fantasy novel. (1) “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler; (2) “The Magicians” by Lev; (3) Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising #1) by Susan Cooper
13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil DeGrass Tyson
14. Read a book about war. “City of Theives” by David Benioff
15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. 0
16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country. “Native Son” by Richard Wright
17. Read a classic by an author of color. “Native Son” by Richard Wright
18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead. (1) “Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1)” by Marissa Meyer; (2) “Cleopatra in Space #3: Secret of the Time Tablets”
19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey. “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” Paolo Coelho
20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel. “What’s in a Name” by Pat Henshaw
21. Read a book published by a micropress. 0
22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri
23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. “Rose” by Li-Young Lee
24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler

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.

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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 surprised 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.

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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.

    © 2003–2018 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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